Threat of docks airport strike looming

Passengers using London City Airport face the prospect of disruption if ground staff choose to strike over a dispute with CityJet.

GMB union bosses met yesterday (Tuesday) to discuss an official strike ballot for a majority of the ground staff at the Docklands airport.

The dispute is over pay, treatment and terms and conditions of employment for the staff who are employed by an agency, Aviation Resources, and provide check-in and dispatch services for CityJet, Air France and KLM flights.

GMB representatives have said CityJet has refused to sanction a pay rise given the level of inflation since 2008. The employer Aviation Resources, is wholly reliant on each airline for the pay and conditions of employment of the staff they supply.

The union is accusing CityJet management of bullying tactics. It said CityJet told a new mother on her first day back to work following the birth of her baby boy that her ‘grooming needed attention’ as she had ‘put on weight’. The airline is insisting she remove her nose stud, which is integral to her religious beliefs. She is now off work having been sent home.

GMB members have already voted by 97 per cent for industrial action in a consultative ballot of all the members working on the CityJet contract at London City Airport. GMB has offered to go to mediation at ACAS and is awaiting a response from the members’ employer Aviation Resources.

Stephanie Attwood, GMB Organiser said: “CityJet’s behaviour is from another era, running roughshod over people’s rights and dignity with no regard to race, religious or family commitments.”

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She said CityJet has refused to negotiate with GMB and compounds this by refusing to allow Aviation Resources to have meaningful discussions with the union. She warned that the other airlines could get caught in the crossfire and has urged them to influence CityJet to put things right as soon as possible.

A spokeswoman for CityJet said: “CityJet is concerned by some of the claims that are being made in the press by GMB on behalf of Aviation Resources Limited (ARL) employees. ARL staff provide important ground handling services to CityJet under contract. We are on hand to provide support to ARL, our long standing partner at LCY, to assist them in addressing these concerns. We have initiated discussions with senior ARL management on these specific claims.”

If ground staff go on strike, it will be the first time industrial action has taken place at London City and will affect all CityJet, Air France and KLM flights arriving and departing from the airport in March