Britain is bracing for a summer of “major disruption” after British Airways workers voted in favor of strike action on the same day rail lines were closed except for industrial activity.
Ground staff at the carrier’s Heathrow hub overwhelmingly support a step in their fight to reverse pay cuts imposed during the Covid pandemic.
Up to 1,000 workers will take part in the strike, which the GMB Union said is “likely to take place during the peak summer break”.
The airline said: “Holiday makers face major disruptions due to the investment by British Airways.
Downing Street said further strikes would “only add to the misery that passengers face at airports”. A spokesman promised “will consider what contingency measures BA can put in place” to address the action.
It comes as passengers face a second all-day strike by transport workers, while Britain’s largest education union, the National Education Union (NEU) and junior doctors also warned that it could pursue industrial action later this year or next if the government fails to meet demands for improved wages and conditions.
Ministers and business leaders are now weighing the potential impact of a summer of discontent if workers across the public and private services go on strike and win offers for higher pay.
The government is set to push through legislation that would allow companies to replace the workers of strikers with agency employees as soon as Monday. However, the use of casual labor to replace strike workers is unlikely to succeed, except for the lowest paid or less skilled workers.
Yael Selfin, chief economist at accounting firm KPMG, said the deepening cost-of-living crisis could trigger further industrial disputes in the coming months. If this leads to higher pay, it will “nerve” policymakers who set interest rates at the central bank, she added.
“The risk of a recession has increased,” said Selfin, adding that higher energy costs and supply chain disruptions due to Russia’s war in Ukraine have put pressure on UK households.
The strike action causing higher payments, she said, “would worry the Bank of England”.
“It has the potential to increase costs and interest rates to rise even faster. That would weaken the economy further, as higher interest rates slow the economy down,” Ms. Selfin said.
Soaring prices for basic goods and services pushed inflation to a 40-year high of 9.1% in the 12 months to May, according to official data released this week.
Meanwhile, wages rose about 4% in the three months to April.
The pain for households is set to worsen as the Bank of England estimates inflation could hit around 11% by the end of the year.
The strike at Heathrow involved British Airways ground staff, mostly underpaid women. Members of the GMB coalition voted, with 95% in favor of the warning. Voter turnout was 80%. Members of the union Unite in the same group of workers are also expected to vote for strike action.
Insiders have suggested that a first strike could take place over the weekend of July 9 and 10, which coincides with the first weekend of the summer break for many schools in the UK.
Nadine Houghton, GMB country officer, said: “BA has been trying to provide our members with table crumbs in the form of a one-time 10% bonus payment, but this has not reduced it. wealth value”.
They are asking BA to reinstate the 10% cut it took from them during the pandemic. They claim ‘bosses’ wages are back to pre-pandemic levels’, with Luis Gallego – chief executive of BA’s parent company IAG – putting out £4.9million outlay this year.
Ms Houghton said: “Our members need to recover 10% of the money they stole from last year with full refund and 10% bonus that other colleagues were paid.
“It’s not too late to save on summer holidays – other BA workers have had their pay cut,” she said, adding: “Do the same for check-in and check-in staff and This industrial action can be successful from the start.”
Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, whose west London headquarters is home to many Heathrow workers, told The Independent: “BA has used the pandemic to cut wages and so it is not surprising that workers are looking to make up for that loss as airport operations are returning to normal and they are facing with the cost of living crisis.
“Being able to use agent staff would exacerbate this type of dispute and prompt an expansion of any action.”
Meanwhile, the railway dispute shows little sign of progress.
“Our members are taking the lead in supporting all working people trying to get a raise and secure some jobs,” said RMT general secretary Mick Lynch.
“In the modern economy, workers need to be rewarded for their work, enjoy good conditions and have a sense of security that work will not be taken from them.”
This was followed by an announcement that many railroad workers would vote to strike, threatening new disruption in the industry.
The Salaried Employees Association (TSSA) has released notice of voting for dozens of members at TransPennine Express (TPE) for strike action and short-term strike action in a wage dispute, which conditions and job security.
Voting opens on June 29 and ends in mid-July, so the earliest industrial action that can be taken is July 27.
TSSA is also electing its members in Network Rail, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, West Midlands Trains, Avanti West Coast, Northern, LNER, C2C and Great Western Railway (GWR) in an escalating dispute across the line. rail.
A TUC spokesperson said: “Working people are at a breaking point after the longest and harshest wage squeeze in 200 years.
“Despite the urgent cost of living, ministers are determined to reduce workers’ wages – while they turn a blind eye to the City’s shocking excesses.
“This is the same government that promised us a high-wage economy. Reducing wages and attacking unions won’t get there.
“Given the prospect of a severe drop in living standards, it is right for workers to work together to protect their wages and conditions.”
A British Airways spokesperson said: “We are extremely disappointed with the outcome and the unions have chosen to take this action.
“Despite the extremely challenging environment and losses of over £4 billion, we made an offer of 10% payout and were accepted by the majority of our colleagues.
“We are fully committed to working together to find a solution, because to deliver to our customers and rebuild our business, we have to work as a team. We will, of course, keep customers updated on what this means for them as the situation evolves.”
The Independent understand that the 10% provided by BA is a one-time payment that will not be aggregated into the base payment.