Gatwick ground handlers call off threat of bank holiday strike

posted on 24th August 2023 by William Hallowell
Gatwick ground handlers call off threat of bank holiday strike

Ground handlers at Gatwick Airport have backed down from the threat of bank holiday industrial action after a pay deal has been agreed.

Trade union Unite had called strike action this weekend on behalf of members employed by ground handlers Red Handling and Wilson James who undertake the passenger mobility contract at the airport.

But after improved pay offers both strikes have been cancelled and there is currently no further industrial action scheduled at the airport, the union has confirmed, hailing the deal as a “tremendous achievement”.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, 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.”

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

“Unite will not be resting on its laurels and will be using this year’s pay battles as the foundation for future campaigns at the airport.”

Union members at Red Handling accepted a 14 per cent increase in pay and will receive improved overtime rates and better sick pay. During the course of the dispute, Unite has more than doubled its membership at the company, it said.

Meanwhile, Unite’s members at Wilson James accepted a 16 per cent pay increase, an increase in overtime rates from next month, a commitment to further negotiations over sick pay and the opportunity of improved shift patterns, the union confirmed today.

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.

“The agreed 14 per cent increase to hourly pay across all grades means that, since we acquired the business in January 2022, increases have totalled in excess of 30 per cent, 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.”

A London Gatwick spokesperson said: We are pleased that the proposed strike action by airline ground handlers this weekend has been called off. We look forward to welcoming passengers departing on their summer holidays as normal.”