Britain is bracing for a summer of ‘massive disruption’ after British Airways workers voted to strike on the same day the railways were virtually shut down in industrial action.
Ground staff at the carrier’s hub at Heathrow have overwhelmingly backed a strike in their fight to reverse pay cuts imposed during the Covid pandemic.
Up to 1,000 workers will be involved in the strike, which the GMB union said was ‘likely during the peak summer holiday period’.
“Holidaymakers are facing massive disruption thanks to the stubbornness of British Airways,” he said.
Downing Street said further strikes “will only add to the misery facing passengers at airports”. A spokesperson promised to “examine what emergency measures BA could put in place” to circumvent the action.
It comes as passengers faced a second full day of strikes by transport workers, while Britain’s biggest education union, the National Education Union (NEU), and young doctors also warned that they could pursue industrial action later this year or next if the government fails to meet demands for better wages and conditions.
Ministers and business leaders are now weighing the potential fallout from a summer of discontent if public and private service workers go on strike and win better wage deals.
The government is set to pass laws allowing companies to replace the work of strikers with agency workers as of Monday. However, the use of casual labor to replace strikers is unlikely to succeed except against the lowest paid or least skilled workers.
The worsening cost-of-living crisis could spark new labor disputes in the coming months, said Yael Selfin, chief economist at accounting firm KPMG. If that led to higher wage offers, it would “worry” policymakers who set interest rates at the central bank, she added.
“The risk of a recession has increased,” Ms Selfin said, adding that rising energy costs and supply chain disruption due to Russia’s war in Ukraine had piled pressure on British households.
A strike that triggers higher wage deals “is going to worry the Bank of England”, she said.
“Costs are likely to rise and interest rates will rise further and faster. This would cause an even deeper weakening as higher interest rates slow the economy,” Ms Selfin said.
Soaring prices for basic goods and services pushed inflation to a new 40-year high of 9.1% in the 12 months to May, according to official figures released this week.
Wages, meanwhile, rose about 4% in the three months to April.
Household pain is set to worsen, with the Bank of England estimating inflation could hit around 11% later this year.
The Heathrow strike involves British Airways ground staff, mostly low-paid women. Members of the GMB union voted 95 percent in favor of a strike. The participation rate was 80%. Members of the Unite union belonging to the same group of workers are also expected to vote for the strike.
Insiders have suggested a first episode of the strike could take place as early as the weekend of July 9-10, coinciding with the first weekend of summer vacation for many schools in England.
“BA has tried to give our members crumbs from the table in the form of a one-time 10% bonus payment, but that doesn’t cut the mustard,” said GMB Country Agent Nadine Houghton.
They are demanding that BA restore a 10% discount that was stripped from them during the pandemic. They claim ‘bosses’ wages have returned to pre-pandemic levels’, with Luis Gallego – chief executive at parent company BA IAG – in line for a £4.9million payout this year.
“Our members need to get back the 10% they stole from them last year with full back pay and the 10% bonus that other colleagues received,” Ms Houghton said.
‘It’s not too late to save the summer holidays – other BA workers have had their pay cuts reversed,’ she said, adding: ‘Do the same for ground staff and registration and that industrial action can be nipped in the bud.”
Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, whose seat in west London is home to many Heathrow workers, said The Independent“BA has used the pandemic to cut wages and so it’s no surprise workers are looking to recoup that loss now that airport operations are back to normal and they’re facing a cost crisis. of life.
“The possible use of agency staff will exacerbate this type of litigation and encourage the broadening of any action.”
Meanwhile, there were few signs of progress in the rail dispute.
“Our members are leading the way in standing up for all workers trying to get a pay rise and some job security,” said RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch.
“In a modern economy, workers need to be properly paid for their work, enjoy good conditions and be sure that their jobs will not be taken away from them. »
It was followed by an announcement that more railway workers…
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This notice was published: 2022-06-23 19:40:22