After avoiding strike action at Heathrow, the UK aviation industry is now set to be hit by strikes at London’s second biggest airport as Gatwick Airport ground workers vote to take eight days of industrial action over the summer.
The 950 workers, who are members of Unite, the Union, are employed by four companies that operate at the airport and which have been in negotiations with the union since January 2023 but have failed to reach a deal.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said the union had drawn a line in the sand as the majority of the workers were earning under £12 ($15) an hour: “Our members at Gatwick Airport undertake incredibly demanding roles and are essential to keeping the airport and airlines working, yet their employers somehow think it is acceptable to pay them a pittance.”
The Unite workers work for ASC, Menzies Aviation, GGS and DHL Services on behalf of many of the UK’s major airlines and represent about half of all ground staff at the airport.
Unite members working for DHL Gatwick Direct, Red Handling and Wilson James are also currently being balloted on strike action with the ballots closing at the end of July.
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Spokespeople for EasyJet, DHL, GGS and Menzies Aviation told the BBC that the ground-handling companies were all continuing to work with Unite on reaching a solution to avoid the strikes with a representative from Menzies saying the union had rejected an 11% pay increase offer.
The first period of action will take place between Friday 28 July and Tuesday 1 August, with the second period happening the following weekend between Friday 4 August and Tuesday 8 August.