Gatwick ground handlers call off bank holiday strike

Ground handlers working with several airlines at Gatwick have cancelled industrial action planned for this bank holiday weekend after accepting a 14% pay rise.

Members of Unite the union who work for Red Handling at the airport had been balloted after “a significantly improved” pay offer. Red Handling is responsible for ground handling for Norse Atlantic, Norwegian, Delta, TAP Air Portugal and Saudia.

Staff at Wilson James, which undertakes the passenger mobility contract at the airport, also called off action after a better pay rise of 16% pay was accepted, along with an increase in overtime rates from next month, a commitment to further negotiations over sick pay and the opportunity of improved shift patterns.

Keith Fogarty, chief operating officer at Red Handling UK, said: “We welcome the news that our latest offer has been formally accepted by our employees at London Gatwick Airport, following the official conclusion and verification of Unite’s recent ballot.

MoreGatwick ground handlers suspend strike plan for this weekend

“The agreed 14% increase to hourly pay across all grades means that, since we acquired the business in January 2022, increases have totalled in excess of 30%, representing one of the most competitive packages anywhere in the UK ground handling sector.

“As a result of this decision, all industrial action planned between Friday 25th August and Monday 28th August has been cancelled with immediate effect. This means that our services will continue as normal throughout one of the busiest periods of the year for London Gatwick Airport.

“Our offer reflects our ongoing commitment to investing in our people, promoting a positive culture and building an outstanding team to secure the long-term growth and success of Red Handling UK and its employees, here in the UK.

“We are looking forward to cementing our position as a key handling partner in the UK aviation industry, and are committed to continued investment in equipment, services and people.”

The Red Handling workers had also been set to walk out for a four-day strike last weekend but that was called off after the pay talks resumed. Along with the improved pay rise, staff will receive better overtime rates and sick pay.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This is a tremendous achievement; Unite has co-ordinated industrial disputes across Gatwick to secure well-deserved pay increases for its members.

“The pay campaign at Gatwick airport this summer is one of the clearest examples yet of how Unite’s relentless focus on jobs, pay and conditions is paying direct financial dividends for its members.”

The union said it has already resolved pay disputes at six other companies: ASC, ICTS, DHL Gatwick Direct, DHL Services Ltd, GGS and Menzies Aviation. In all cases the workers secured at least a double-digit pay increase.

Unite regional officer Dominic Rothwell said: “This was an extremely complex campaign and its success would simply not have been possible without the hardwork, dedication and commitment of Unite’s reps and members at Gatwick.”

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