Gatwick Airport strikes 2023: When the next August walkouts will occur

Gatwick Airport strikes 2023: When are the August walkouts and what do I do if my flight is affected?

  • Unite the Union has just announced strikes at Gatwick Airport this month
  • The fresh raft of August strikes include the Bank Holiday weekend 

Workers at Gatwick Airport have announced a fresh raft of strikes, including August Bank Holiday weekend, prompting fresh fears for more summer holiday chaos.

This is not the first time that Unite has urged members to settle pay disputes – the trade union planned and cancelled walkouts for earlier this month, but have just announced more planned strike action.

Holidaymakers are due to be affected on various occasions this August, with 230 Unite members belonging to Red Handling and Wilson James set to walk out.

Red Handling is a ground handling company – they will walk out from August 18 to August 21, and then again on August 25 until August 28 – wreaking havoc on the last bank holiday until Christmas.

Passenger assistance workers from Wilson James has its Unite members striking from August 18-20 and then again from August 22-24.

Unite Union said the industrial action will cause ‘severe disruption’ for those hoping to take a later summer break (file image)

Why Gatwick staff are striking

Unite, one of the UK’s largest trade unions, explained that both Red Handling and Wilson James had failed to offer staff appropriate pay.

Red Handling workers are in charge of ground handling for various European airlines such as Norse Atlantic, Norwegian and TAP Air Portugal, as well as Saudi Airlines and US giant Delta. 

Unite believes that a whopping 45,000 passengers flying during the busy August period could be affected as 216 flights are expected to be disrupted or delayed – only from the first four days of Red Handling’s walkout.

Unite regional officer Dominic Rothwell said: ‘The strike action is set to cause severe disruption throughout Gatwick Airport, but this dispute is totally of the employers’ own making, they have been given every opportunity to make our members a fair pay offer but have failed to do so.

He went on to say: ‘The companies need to stop prevaricating and make an offer which meets our members’ expectations’.

Unite Union said the industrial action will cause ‘severe disruption’ for those hoping to take a later summer break (file image)

Cancelled strike action 

While Red Handling and Wilson James workers have resorted to striking, other disgruntled airport staff have abandoned their strike action after accepting a new pay offer.

Those employed in similar roles at Gatwick Ground Services (GGS) and DHL Ground Handling, among other aviation employers are satisfied with new pay offers and therefore no longer choosing to cause disruption this summer.

Unite members from GGS accepted an improved pay offer of a huge 10.3% increase, according to the trade union.

The union’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, said in a statement: ‘This is a significant pay increase for workers at GGS.

‘From the outset our members have been rock-solid in their determination to secure a fair pay increase, which has resulted in a just settlement.

‘The pay campaign at Gatwick Airport is a great example of how Unite’s unwavering commitment to jobs, pay and conditions for our members is delivering substantial financial benefits for workers’.

The strikes have prompted fears for yet more summer holiday chaos (file image)

Gatwick Airport response 

A London Gatwick spokesperson said: ‘We are aware of the recent ballot results and encourage staff at Wilson James, Red Handling and their union to reach a resolution.

‘We will support Wilson James, who hold the contract for providing assistance to passengers, in their contingency planning. 

‘We will also support the airlines affected, who hold the contracts with Red Handling, with their contingency plans to ensure that as many flights as possible operate as scheduled.

MailOnline spoke to a Gatwick representative who added: Airlines hold the contracts with ground handling companies at the airport. 

‘Given this in an industrial matter, it would not be appropriate for London Gatwick to comment further on this issue – please speak to individual airlines for more details.

‘To be clear the ground handlers are employed through a third-party contract between the ground handling companies and airlines’.

Gatwick Express 

Fortunately, the Gatwick Express train service will not be impacted by airport strikes.

However, passengers should take care to check for updates on their services – National Rail strikes set to take place will cause disruption on the airport’s rail passenger service.

This will result in fewer services – but they will still run.

And tube drivers on the London Underground have voted to continue industrial action – for the next six months in ongoing pay disputes.

Travellers this August will face huge disruption thanks to ASLEF’s members vote in conjunction with ground handling and passenger assistance workers.

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