Published on Thursday, November 1, 2018

Gatwick staff to stage three 48-hour strikes

Gatwick Airport staff employed to look after passengers who need special assistance have voted to strike for six days over the next two months.

More than 250 workers, who are members of the Unite union, are in a row with their employer, logistics company Wilson James, over a 'massive inequality' in pay.

Unite warned that thousands of passengers who need assistance will be affected during the three 48-hour stoppages.

It estimated the workers look after 670,000 passengers annually, many with disabilities.

The strike will take place from 05.00 on 20 November, ending at 05.00 on 22 November, and then repeated at the same times on 26/28 November and on 21/23 December.

It said the workers voted by 98% for strike action.

The dispute centres on a demand for a £1 an hour pay rise for the year, starting April 1 2018, to 'bridge the gap with those airport staff pushing luggage trollies who earn significantly more'.

Unite said those assisting disabled passengers are paid just £8.27 per hour.

Unite regional officer Jamie Major said: "The last thing our members want is to cause inconvenience and distress to those passengers who rely on their services during their time at Gatwick Airport - but they feel they have been forced into a corner by a tight-fisted management who refuse to address the pay inequality issue.

"There is no rhyme nor reason why pushing luggage is valued more than helping people - perhaps, it's because airlines can charge more for heavy luggage to increase profits.

"It remains a mystery to our members. Gatwick Airport needs to get its priorities right, otherwise it will suffer huge reputational damage in the run-up to the Christmas holiday season."

A spokeswoman for Wilson James said it was disappointed by the ballot decision but remains committed to continuing the dialog with Unite.

"In the meantime we are preparing contingency plans to minimise passenger disruption during the periods identified for industrial action," she said.

A Gatwick spokesman added: "We encourage both sides to continue discussions and to work for an outcome to resolve the dispute. The welfare of our passengers remains our top priority, however, and we remain confident that services at the airport will not be disrupted as Wilsom James has a range of mitigation measures ready to put into place should strike action take place."



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