Truck drivers at Alpha Flight, which supplies all of the British Airways (BA) outbound flights at Gatwick Airport, voted this week in favor of a planned walkout scheduled for later this month. Union officials say the labor action could mean some upcoming British Airways flights will depart the airport with limited food and water on hand.
Truck drivers at the air services firm, Alpha Flight say they will refuse overtime beginning on March 18th and will stage a walkout on March 28 and 29. The union representing workers at British Airways’ lone food and beverage supplier for London Gatwick Airport (LGW) says the strike vote, which was approved this week by an overwhelming majority, will likely mean unavoidable inconvenience for some passengers.
“British Airways passengers who find that their flights are lacking food and water have to understand that their comfort has been compromised directly by the penny pinching of Alpha Flight,” a union spokesperson told the Daily Mail in a statement. “Even at this late stage, Alpha Flight can still ensure that industrial action is avoided by coming forward with a reasonable pay offer, which meets the expectations of our members.”
Unite the Union, which represents 55 truck drivers employed by Alpha Flight, says the upcoming labor actions became necessary because of a long-running pay dispute. According to the labor group, drivers for the company are paid well below market rate when compared to workers in similar positions in the region. Because the drivers involved in the planned work stoppage supply the Alpha Flight warehouse, it is believed that the company may not be able to fully supply hundreds of daily British Airways departures at LGW during the strike.
British Airways officials promise that the airline is making arrangements to make certain that flights departing from the U.K’s second busiest airport are fully supplied in the event of a walkout. “We are working with our supplier to ensure our customers continue to enjoy all services onboard their flights,” an airline official told reporters on Tuesday.
A spokesperson for Alpha Flight says the company still hopes to avoid the threatened labor actions. Management at the firm insists that because employees accepted a pay deal just last year, the planned strike is entirely unnecessary.
“We don’t believe there is a dispute which warrants industrial action,” Alpha Flight spokesperson Richard Wood told the Sun. “We have informed the union of this and are scheduled to meet with representatives of Unite to find a satisfactory resolution.”