One of two Gatwick Airport strikes postponed after 'greatly improved offer'

A second strike involving different workers is likely to go ahead from Friday

Unite believes its initial four-day strike will affect 216 flights and 45,000 passengers. PA
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One of two strikes planned for London’s Gatwick Airport has been postponed after a “greatly improved offer" from managers.

Passenger assistance workers at a company called Wilson James would be allowed to vote on the new offer, the Unite union said.

But strike action involving staff working for Red Handling is still expected to begin as planned on Friday.

Unite said a fresh offer in that dispute was made over the weekend, but it was unlikely to be approved by staff in a vote that closes on Thursday.

“Following a greatly improved offer, strike action this weekend by workers employed by Wilson James, which operates the passenger assistance programme at the airport, has been suspended to allow members to vote on the new offer,” Unite said in a statement.

The Wilson James strike was to be for three days from August 18 and then a further three days from August 22.

If the Red Handling strike goes ahead, it will affect the ground handling for Saudia, Norse Atlantic, Norwegian, Delta, and TAP Air Portugal.

The first Red Handling strike action is from 12.01am on Friday, August 18, until 11.59pm on Monday, August 21. A second walkout is scheduled from 12.01am on Friday, August 25, until 11.59pm on Monday, August 28.

“Gatwick’s passengers planning to fly with one of the affected airlines will be rightly angry and confused over how every other dispute at the airport has been resolved, but this one hasn’t been,” said Unite general secretary Sharon Graham.

“This is due to Red Handling’s failure to make an offer in line with other employers at the airport, it is a wealthy company, and its refusal is all about greed, not need.”

Unite believes its initial four-day strike will affect 216 flights and 45,000 passengers.

Union regional officer Dominic Rothwell said: “Strikes will inevitably cause serious delays and disruption across Gatwick.

“Unite remains willing to negotiate, provided Red Handling is prepared to significantly improve its offer.”

Ground handlers employed by four other companies at Gatwick – ASC, Menzies Aviation, GGS and DHL Services – cancelled strike action after receiving improved pay offers.

Ms Graham praised the “excellent” deals and credited the results to unionised workers standing strong during talks.

Cancellations and delays at Gatwick left thousands of passengers stranded in late July.

Up to 11,000 people were affected due to adverse weather and staff shortages, resulting in the cancellation of more than 70 flights.

Updated: August 15, 2023, 4:16 PM