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British Airways strike to cause summer of travel chaos

Passengers board a British Airways Embraer 190 aircraft at London City Airport
British Airways workers voted 95% in favour of a strike for better pay, with a 81% turnout, said GMB, the union behind the strikes. Photo: Reuters/John Sibley

Staff at British Airways (IAG.L) voted in favour of strike action on Thursday, meaning more travel misery ahead for UK travellers.

Around 700 employees at London’s Heathrow airport balloted for industrial action, which is set to fall in line with the start of the summer holidays to cause maximum chaos.

Workers voted 95% in favour of a strike for better pay, with a 81% turnout, the union behind the strikes, GMB, said.

They are calling for the 10% pay cut imposed during the pandemic to be overturned.

GMB added that said holidaymakers now face a “gruelling summer of travel chaos”. The union must give BA two week's notice, so the strikes could start as soon as the beginning of next month.

However, according to reports, the union is looking at delaying strikes until the third or fourth weekend in July to coincide with the start of the summer holiday getaway to maximise “leverage”.

Read more: How BA strike will impact your summer travel plans

British Airways expressed its extreme disappointment as the news broke. A spokesman said: “We’re extremely disappointed with the result and that the unions have chosen to take this course of action.

“We are fully committed to work together to find a solution, because to deliver for our customers and rebuild our business we have to work as a team.”

The move follows recent strike action from Britain’s rail workers, and could add fresh disruption to the UK’s busiest airport.

A large number of holidaymakers have already suffered significant delays and cancellations in recent weeks as airlines have struggled to handle the increase in demand, with a strain on employee numbers.

Watch: British Airways workers at Heathrow vote to strike during school summer holidays

A GMB spokesperson said: “All our members are asking for – and these are primarily low-paid women – is for BA to reinstate the 10% taken from them during the pandemic.”

Meanwhile, Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, said holidaymakers face massive disruption – but there is still time for BA to avoid a walkout, if it reverses pay cuts made during the pandemic.

Read more: What is stagflation and can it lead to a recession?

“Our members need to be reinstated the 10% they had stolen from them last year with full back pay and the 10% bonus which other colleagues have been paid.

“GMB members at Heathrow have suffered untold abuse as they deal with the travel chaos caused by staff shortages and IT failures.

“At the same time, they’ve had their pay slashed during BA’s callous fire and rehire policy.”

Watch: Heathrow: 15,000 passengers hit by ‘baggage cancellations’