British Airways’ UK cargo handlers set to strike over Christmas

Cargo workers at British Airways (BA) have voted in favour of strike action over changes to pay and conditions.

The cargo handler members of union Unite voted 98% in favour of taking strike action over nine days starting on Christmas day and finishing on January 2.

The union represents in the region of 850 members in BA’s cargo handling business.

Unite claimed that workers face pay cuts of between 20-25% as well as changes to their terms and conditions.

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “Our members are taking this action as a last resort.  They are aware that it will cause severe disruption to air freight entering the UK but they simply can’t afford to lose a quarter of their pay.

“Even at this late stage British Airways’ new chief executive Sean Doyle can do the right thing and avoid this strike action.”

An IAG Cargo spokesperson said: “IAG Cargo is transporting critical supplies around the world, and like all airlines, has been hit hard financially by the crisis. Our offer would see almost half of cargo workers’ salaries rise, with no one else taking more than a 10% pay cut. We want to resolve this, and urge the union to get back around the table.”

The strike action could potentially come at a time when UK supply chains are under extra pressure as a result of the country leaving the European Union.

Many are expecting changes in customs procedures to cause delays at borders, with charter brokers preparing for an increase in demand.

“The strike action is almost certain to result in importers looking for alternative options to bring goods into the UK to avoid the severe delays and long backlog caused by the strike action at Heathrow,” Unite said.

“BA cargo workers have continued to operate during two lockdowns and have played a vital role in ensuring that supply chains were maintained in the UK.

“Given the huge reduction in passenger numbers it is the one part of the business that has remained profitable throughout the pandemic.”

In an operational update, IAG Cargo, which manages British Airways’ cargo operations, said: “Our flights continue to operate as planned and we are doing everything we can to minimise disruption for our customers. If you have any questions concerning this situation, please do not hesitate to contact your account manager.”

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Damian Brett

Damian Brett
I have been writing about the freight and logistics industry since 2007 when I joined International Freighting Weekly to cover the shipping sector.After a stint in PR, I have gone on to work for Containerisation International and Lloyds List - where I was editor of container shipping - before joining Air Cargo News in 2015.Contact me on [email protected]