BA check-in staff at Heathrow call off strike over pay rise

Thursday July 07, 2022 1:00 p.m.

BA cut an additional 10,300 flights.

Union members working as British Airways (BA) check-in staff have suspended a planned strike at Heathrow following a pay rise.

Unite said that after lengthy negotiations BA had made a “significantly improved compensation offer”.

The proposal will now go to the workers who are expected to vote on whether they accept it.

“We are pleased that BA has finally listened to the voice of its check-in staff,” said union general secretary Sharon Graham.

“Unite has repeatedly warned that wage disputes at BA are inevitable unless the company takes our members’ legitimate grievances seriously.”

The industrial action was announced on June 23 after unions Unite and GMB demanded the reinstatement of a 10% pay cut taken by ground staff during the pandemic.

Although no date was announced, it was understood that Unite GMB would target the third or fourth weekend in July, to create maximum disruption for Britons heading off for the summer holidays.

Commenting on today’s decision, the airline said: “We are very pleased that, following collaboration with the unions, they have decided not to publish dates for the industrial action. This is great news for our customers and our employees.

The news comes at a delicate time for BA, as the airline was yesterday forced to cut 10,300 more flights for the August-October period to ensure smoother operations amid the ongoing travel chaos.

The carrier said it was taking advantage of the UK government’s “amnesty” period on airport slots.

Now involving 13% of its short-haul flights, the cuts are expected to leave long-haul services unchanged.

“While taking further action is not what we wanted to be, it is the right thing to do for our customers and our colleagues,” a company spokesperson said yesterday.

To help deal with ongoing travel disruptions, BA announced yesterday that it had appointed KLM’s Rene de Groot as chief operating officer, City AM reported.

In a letter to staff seen by the PA news agency, chief executive Sean Doyle said the 53-year-old Dutch businessman was ‘very familiar with the issues we have been tackling’ as he wore KLM during the pandemic.

“I am confident Rene will help us rebuild our airline and become a better BA,” Doyle wrote to employees.

BA is not the only incumbent carrier affected by the disruption, as German airline Lufthansa has announced it will cancel domestic and European flights from Frankfurt from today for a week.