Talks fail to resolve differences between BA and cargo handlers

By Damian Brett

IAG Cargo's Acentis building at London-Heathrow

Nine days of strike action by British Airway’s (BA) cargo handlers in the UK looks set to go ahead after talks between the parties failed to resolve differences.

In an update, union Unite said it had held talks with BA bosses but had failed to make significant progress.

Earlier this month, more than 840 British Airways cargo workers, predominantly based at Heathrow airport, voted in favour of strike action over changes to pay and conditions.

The strike action is due to start on December 25 and run until January 2.

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

The strike action comes as the UK’s air cargo sector faces a busy period caused by uncertainty around the UK leaving the European Union on January 1, backlogs of lorries at the border with France, congestion at container ports, ongoing PPE/Test kit demand and the launch of the country’s Covid-19 vaccination programme.

“The strike will be potentially cause further disruption to the airline as importers have been seeking alternative ways to bring goods into the UK, in an attempt to avoid the chaos and disruption currently occurring at the country’s ports,” the union said.

Unite has reached agreement with British Airways in all the other sections of the company where it represents workers.

“The cargo division is the only section of British Airways that has retained a consistent revenue stream, throughout the pandemic,” it added. “The workforce has played a key role in ensuring that vital goods continued to be brought into the UK.”

In an operational update, IAG Cargo, 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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