British Airways’ check-in staff and ground crew at Heathrow have voted to go on strike with walkouts possibly timed for the start of the summer holidays.
The GMB union balloted about 700 members at the airport in a dispute about a 10% cut in wages imposed during the pandemic.
Separately, BA check-in staff at Heathrow who are members of the Unite union have also voted for strike action.
More than 500 members of Unite recorded a 94.7% vote in favour of strike action.
Unite said the dispute is a result of BA restoring the 10% pay cut made during the pandemic to management but not reinstating wage rates for the check-in staff.
The GMB union must now give two weeks’ notice to BA before walking out, meaning strike action could begin at the start of July at the earliest.
The Telegraph reported that it is understood the GMB union will delay strikes until the third or fourth weekend in July to coincide with the start of the summer holiday getaway to maximise “leverage”.
Unite said it is giving BA a “short window of opportunity to remove the 10% pay cut” before announcing strikes.
Oliver Richardson, Unite national officer for aviation, said: “The problems British Airways is facing are entirely of its own making. It brutally cut jobs and pay during the pandemic even though the government was paying them to save jobs.
“In the case of this dispute, they have insulted this workforce, slashing pay by 10% only to restore it to managers but not to our members.
“BA is treating its loyal workforce as second-class citizens and they will not put up with it a moment longer.
“Strike action will inevitably cause severe disruption to BA’s services at Heathrow.
“The company has a short window of opportunity to reinstate our members pay before strikes are called. I urge BA not to squander that opportunity.”
BA said in a statement: “We’re extremely disappointed with the result and that the unions have chosen to take this course of action.
“Despite the extremely challenging environment and losses of more than £4 billion, we made an offer of a 10% payment which was accepted by the majority of other colleagues.
“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.
“We will of course keep our customers updated about what this means for them as the situation evolves.”
Clive Wratten, chief executive of the Business Travel Association, commented: “British Airways’ workers by voting to strike are toying with the livelihoods of businesspeople, threatening companies across the country and destroying much anticipated holidays. Put simply, travellers deserve much better.
“The Business Travel Association demands the airline, the unions and employees must serve the interests of its passengers. They can’t crush confidence in international travel.”
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “Passengers must not be made to bear the brunt of these strikes. British Airways should make the necessary arrangements to avoid a raft of hugely disruptive last-minute cancellations.
“Strikes by airline staff are within the airline’s control because it is negotiating with its staff, so if your flight is delayed or cancelled because of this then you’ll likely be entitled to compensation under Denied Boarding Regulations.
“BA must also reroute customers as soon as possible using other carriers if necessary, and explain these rights to customers. We know this requirement is not always being met, so the government and Civil Aviation Authority must intervene where airlines are playing fast and loose with the rules.”