Thousands of easyJet passengers could face severe delays at Stansted Airport as check-in staff prepare to go on strike.
The 17-day strike is the latest action in a long-running pay dispute, Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said.
The strikes will start from Thursday 25 July on the eve of the peak season as schools are about to break up for the summer holidays.
Unite the union, which apologised in advance to affected passengers, said that the strike will involve 43 passenger service agents working at easyJet check-in desks at London Stansted airport.
The staff members, who are employed by Stobart Aviation Services, voted unanimously for a strike in a ballot earlier this month.
The strike dates are July 25 to 29; August 2 to 5; August 9 to 12; August 16 to 19; and August 23 to 27.
The low paid workers chose to strike over the company’s refusal to pay wages in line with similar companies at Stansted; the refusal to recognise Unite as a trade union for collective bargaining purposes; and a breakdown in industrial relations, the union said.
Other issues include lack of drinking water during long shifts. The staffing problems have led to a high turnover as workers feel “undervalued and are paid dismally.”
The strikes come as controversy continues to swirl over Stobart’s chief executive Warwick Brady possibly pocketing a £30 million bonus which is linked to any future sale of Southend Airport.
Unite regional officer Mark Barter admitted the action will cause “severe disruption” to thousands of easyJet passengers using Stansted for their summer holidays.
“We held talks with the bosses of Stobart Aviation Services Limited last week and they were frankly dismissive of our pay claim, with a senior manager even stating that staff are handsomely paid, yet were evasive and shifty on the £30 million bonus issue.
“Our members have to have background security checks and risk facing verbal and even physical abuse from stressed-out passengers, - but there always seem to be enough money sloshing around for big bonuses at the top.
“However, our members’ pay is languishing far behind others doing the same job at the airport, so then to be told that they are handsomely paid is quite frankly insulting.”
The union appealed for management to sit down with them and hold constructive talks to resolve the issues before the first day of the strike.
“Unite’s door is always open for such negotiations, but there does have to be a genuine attempt from Stobart’s to address our members’ concerns rather than simply stalling for time,” Mark Barter said.
A spokesperson for the Stobart Group said: “Stobart Aviation Services has, and will continue to engage with Unite and its representatives to reach an agreement on union recognition for our Front of House teams at London Stansted.
“We believe that our active engagement to date has resulted in good progress. We are therefore disappointed to have now received notice of potential action.
“However, we will continue to engage directly with Unite in order to deliver an agreement. We have contingency plans in place to manage the impact on passengers.”
EasyJet have been approached by HuffPost UK for a comment.