Unite press release

For immediate release: Wednesday 21 September 2022

Transatlantic disruption looms as United Airlines workers begin voting on industrial action

Real terms pay cut and outsourcing threats provoke industrial action ballot

Transatlantic routes face the prospect of disruption in the coming months as workers employed by United Airlines prepare to vote on industrial action.

The ballot is open and will run for 3 weeks until 11 October.

Despite the airline reporting a quarterly profit of $329 million, workers based at Heathrow are being offered a pay increase worth just 5 per cent plus an additional payment this year, and 4 per cent in 2023. Inflation (RPI) is currently at a 40 year high of 12.3 per cent. 

The company has also angered the workforce by threatening to tear-up a long standing agreement which bars the use of outsourced labour or third party companies. This is a red line for Unite members. If the airline pressed ahead it would undo years of mutual agreement.

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham said: “United Airlines is offering workers a pay cut when it can afford to pay its staff fairly. To make matters worse, bosses want to tear up a long standing agreement barring the use of outsourced workers. These are red lines the workers won’t cross so the airline faces the prospect of steadfast industrial action. Unite members have their union’s complete backing to protect their pay, terms and conditions.”

Unite represents almost 300 workers in operations, customer services and baggage handling. If the workers back industrial action it would mean the cancellation of up to 18 flights a day from Heathrow. 

Unite regional officer Clare Keogh said: “Unite has a long standing commitment from United Airlines to prioritise direct employment. Now management want to open the floodgates to agency and outsourced labour. Our members want fair pay and they won’t allow a race to the bottom. The workforce feel they have no other choice except to begin an industrial action ballot. It’s time for United Airlines to think again.”

Workers employed by American Airlines at Heathrow are also voting on strike action in a dispute over pay (see notes to editors).


Notes to editors: https://www.unitetheunion.org/news-events/news/2022/september/american-airlines-heathrow-flights-facing-strikes-as-appalling-pay-offer-rejected/

Contact: Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315 or email: [email protected]

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Instagram: unitetheunion Web: unitetheunion.org

Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.