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Heathrow Passengers Facing More Delays and Disruption as Baggage Engineers Now Vote to Strike

Heathrow Passengers Facing More Delays and Disruption as Baggage Engineers Now Vote to Strike

Airline passengers who have to travel through Heathrow Airport are being warned of the potential for disruption and delays over the Easter holidays as yet another group of workers voted to stage a walkout in protest over pay and conditions.

This time, baggage maintenance engineers are to strike on 8th April for three days after failing to reach an agreement on a new pay offer.  The engineers are employed by engineering contractor Vanderlande Industries which provides baggage services across Heathrow.

Because Vanderlande are responsible for maintaining baggage systems across the airport, any disruption could heavily impact every airline that operates out of Heathrow.  The strike would likely have a disproportionate impact on British Airways passengers, as well as the likes of Virgin Atlantic and Emirates.

The walkout is being organised by the Unite union which represents workers across the airport.  Earlier this month, a potential strike by catering workers who serve British Airways was averted at the last minute after contractor DO & CO agreed a 14% pay rise for truck drivers.

“Vanderlande is cashing in on the travel sector’s recovery but refusing our members a decent pay rise even as the cost-of-living soars. As this resounding vote for action shows, this is not on,” commented Unite’s general secretary Sharon Graham.

Despite the massive impact that the pandemic has wrought upon the airline industry, Graham is demanding that employers start increasing employee wages.

“Employers across the sector are on notice that our members are ready to fight back against the sustained and opportunistic attacks against jobs, pay and conditions that have blighted this industry for far too long,” Graham said on Monday.

Vanderlande has told unionised employees that it must freeze wages because Heathrow Airport is refusing to pay more for its services.  The company has, however, allegedly found money to pay non-unionised employees more.

Around 160 employees could take part in the strike including technicians, duty engineers, process managers and control room operators.  The strike could bring Heathrow’s baggage system to a grinding halt.

The entire airline industry is struggling to recruit enough start to keep up with the pace of the rebound in travel demand.  Workers are attempting to take advantage of the situation by fighting for better pay and conditions but some companies say it will take years to pay back the debt they built up during the pandemic.

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