Gatwick Airport staff to strike at start of summer holidays

todayAugust 12, 2023 8

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Gatwick Airport staff to strike at start of summer holidays

Almost 1,000 workers at Gatwick Airport, including baggage handlers and check-in staff, will stage eight days of strikes from later this month.

Staff will strike in a dispute over pay, the union Unite announced, at the start of the school summer holidays.

Significant disruption, delays and cancellations are “inevitable”, the union said.

The workers will strike initially for four days beginning on Friday 28 July and ending on Tuesday 1 August.

A further four days of strikes are scheduled to take place from Friday 4 August until Tuesday 8 August.

Hundreds of thousands of flights across Europe this summer are already in jeopardy following a vote by air traffic controllers to take strike action.

File photo of assengers waiting at Gatwick Airport, London, for an early morning flight to Madeira

Queues at Gatwick Airport. File pic

Up to 12,600 flights every day – around a third of the journeys made across the continent during the peak summer holiday period – could be delayed or cancelled as a result of the industrial action.

Workers at Eurocontrol, which manages European airspace, have said they will walk out in a dispute over pay, working hours and staffing issues.

An industry source told The Times newspaper: “In a full-blown strike, 20 to 30% of flights would be at least delayed.”

The source added: “They are big numbers”.

Budget airline easyJet announced earlier this month that it had been forced to cancel 1,700 flights during the peak summer holiday season in response to the impact of air traffic control strikes in Europe and knock-on effects of the closure of airspace due to the Russia-Ukraine war.

Passengers board an Easyjet airplane at London's Gatwick airport. Pic: iStock

Passengers board an Easyjet airplane at London’s Gatwick airport. Pic: iStock

The airline said it would mostly consolidate some services to and from Gatwick Airport, its busiest operation, between July and September in a bid to eradicate the threat of disruption to its customers’ holiday plans.

It said that Gatwick flights had been most exposed to strikes in France.

Ryanair, which has blamed the air traffic controllers’ action for disruption to 1.1 million passengers, has previously called for the European Commission to intervene to protect services.

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A Eurocontrol spokesperson told Sky News earlier this month that a trade union “announced a period of six months during which industrial action could take place” in its network manager operations centre.

“No specific dates for industrial action have been announced; this was a pre-warning,” they said.

The company is “actively engaging with all social partners” and is “committed to finding solutions through social dialogue”, the spokesperson added.

Last month, security staff at Heathrow Airport called off all strikes and voted in favour of a pay deal.

Members of the Unite union had been due to walk out across nearly every weekend from mid-June until the end of August.

The pay deal included a 10% pay increase backdated to 1 January, effective from workers’ July payslip; a further pay rise of 1.5% from October; and a guaranteed inflation-linked pay increase for 2024.

Security guard members of the Unite union on the picket line at Heathrow Airport, London, after last-ditch talks failed to resolve a pay dispute with action likely to disrupt school holiday travel. The guards are beginning ten days of planned continuous strike action across the Heathrow campus ending in the early hours of Easter Monday. Picture date: Friday March 31, 2023.

Security guard members of the Unite union on the picket line at Heathrow Airport in March

Unite said the agreement was equivalent to an increase of between 15.5% and 17.5 %, depending on staff pay bands.

The deal also promised improved maternity and paternity pay, the end of switching staff between terminals without warning and the end of placing agency workers in security roles, as soon as Heathrow can make the changes.

Meanwhile, at Birmingham Airport, around 100 security officers and terminal technicians will begin continuous strike action from 18 July.

The strikes will severely impact the airport’s security and terminal maintenance, leading to flight delays, the Unite union said.

Written by: Newsroom

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