27/08/2002

Staff at easyJet prepare for strike vote

Staff at no-frills airline easyJet have moved closer to industrial action as the company signalled its unwillingness to cut a deal in a dispute over pay.

Around 110 easyJet baggage handlers working at the airline’s London Luton hub agreed to vote on a strike, but easyJet indicated it is unlikely to concede to the workers’ demands. All are members of the Transport and General Workers’ Union (T&G), but the airline reiterated its stance which formally recognises the union AEEU Amicus, but not the T&G.

T&G members will vote by September 2 on industrial action, and the result could set a precedent for similar action by 300 easyJet cabin crew set to ballot on industrial action next week.

The news comes amid ongoing staffing difficulties for easyJet. The budget airline recently conceded that morale among its staff is low, with many workers "disillusioned" by the pressures imposed on them by the company’s ambitious takeover of Go.

Ray Webster, chief executive of easyJet, said: "We are aware that the T&G is conducting a ballot of 110 of its members at Luton Airport, but we are confident that our people will recognise that their best interests are not served through strike action."

John Street, a regional officer at the T&G, said he expects the baggage handlers to vote in favour of strike action. The T&G said pay negotiations have been ongoing since May, adding that easyJet is seeking to link any increased wage offer to performance, a move which the union opposes.

(GB)

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