Updated: BA strike threat suspended by unions representing check-in staff

Trade unions have suspended the threat to strike by British Airways check-in staff at Heathrow after BA made an increased pay offer.

The 700 check-in staff who are members of Unite and the GMB union will now vote on the offer.

The check-in workers are seeking restoration of a 10% pay cut imposed by BA during the pandemic under threat of being fired.

BA had previously offered only a one-off payment equivalent to the 10% pay cut for this year. The unions are demanding full restoration and back pay.

Strikes were due to be announced by Friday July 8 in order to give the legal notice required for walk-outs over the weekends of Friday July 22 and July 29.

Any stoppages were expected to cause huge disruption to peak summer departures from Heathrow at a time when BA is already under the cosh for cancelling 30,000 flights or 13% of its summer schedule.

However, Unite confirmed the revised offer and suspension of the dispute at lunchtime today following “extensive negotiations” yesterday.

No details of the offer were released, but Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “We welcome [the fact] that BA has finally listened to the voice of its check-in staff.

“Unite has repeatedly warned that pay disputes at BA were inevitable unless the company took our members’ legitimate grievances seriously.

“I pay tribute to, and stand with, our members who have fought hard to protect their pay.”

Unite regional officer Russ Ball added: “I want to salute the solidarity and bravery of our members, who, through acting in unity, have ensured that a vastly improved offer has been made.

“I am proud to be associated with our check-in members at British Airways.”

In a statement, BA said: “We are very pleased that, following collaboration with the unions, they have decided not to issue dates for industrial action.

“This is great news for our customers and our people.”

There is no guarantee the offer will be accepted by check-in staff, given the level of bitterness towards BA of many employees.

A union source has previously described the mood among the mainly women check-in workers as “angry and desperate”, with many “struggling to make ends meet”.

However, it’s unlikely union officials would have agreed a deal to present to their members which they thought unacceptable.

Business Travel Association chief executive Clive Wratten said: “The suspension of the British Airways strike at Heathrow Airport is great news for our industry, and for the check-in staff who have had a positive resolution.

“We now need to pull together as an industry to ensure that recovery is smooth at a crucial time for the sector.”

Which? Travel expert Jo Rhodes said: “This is good news, but even if strikes are avoided British Airways’ customers are facing significant disruption this summer due to the airline mismanaging its schedule and taking bookings it could not fulfil.

“Which? recently reported BA to the Civil Aviation Authority for failing to reroute customers at the earliest opportunity or inform them of their right to compensation. The CAA must take action if BA fails to meet its legal obligations to passengers affected by delays and cancellations this summer.”

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