Holidaymakers could face travel chaos in the run-up to Easter after a plan by Heathrow Airport staff to stage a walkout.

Baggage maintenance engineers have voted for a three-day strike from April 8 to April 10 in a row over pay – right of the start of the school Easter break.

The action could affect travellers passing through the airport during the Easter holidays just as the travel industry gets back on its feet post-pandemic. 

Employees of Vanderlande Industries are involved. They are contracted to Heathrow and manage the baggage handling system.

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The staff due to strike are responsible for the whole baggage handling system across each of Heathrow’s terminals and it is expected to affect all of the airport’s airlines, including British Airways, KLM, Air France and Lufthansa.

According to Unite, the union which represents the employees, over 160 baggage maintenance engineers voted in favour of striking after being told  their pay would be frozen.

Unite says that the pay freeze was decided despite Vanderlande Industries reporting a growth in revenue for 2021.

However, Unite says that Vanderlande Industries claim the pay freeze was necessary as Heathrow Airport was responsible for the cost of increasing wages.

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The union is claiming Vanderlande Industries has decided to fund pay rises for employees on contracts not covered by Unite’s bargaining.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Vanderlande is cashing in on the travel sector’s recovery but refusing our members a decent pay rise even as the cost-of-living soars. As this resounding vote for action shows, this is not on.

“Employers across the sector are on notice that our members are ready to fight back against the sustained and opportunistic attacks against jobs, pay and conditions that have blighted this industry for far too long.” 

Unite regional officer Lindsey Olliver said: “Vanderlande’s excuses for justifying a pay freeze for some but not others are hypocritical and unfair. These excuses will not wash with our members, who are increasingly angry at the company’s inferior treatment of its unionised staff. 

“There is still time to avoid strike action and Unite urges Vanderlande and Heathrow to put an end to this dispute by tabling an offer our members can accept.” 

Heathrow Airport and Vanderlande Industries have been approached for comment.