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Holiday chaos ahead for easyJet passengers as check-in staff strike

Written by: Emma Lunn
Thousands of easyJet passengers could face severe delays at Stansted Airport when check-in staff strike for 17 days this summer.

The walkout was announced by Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, and is part of a long-running pay dispute.

Unite represents 43 passenger service agents employed by Stobart Aviation Services Limited, which has the easyJet contract at the Essex airport.

The strike dates are 25 to 29 July; 2 to 5 August; 9 to 12 August; 16 to 19 August; and 23 to 27 August.

Unite has apologised in advance to affected passengers, and is urging them to contact easyJet and ask the airline to resolve the situation.

Why are check-in staff striking?

The low paid workers voted unanimously 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.

Mark Barter, Unite regional officer, said: “There is no getting away from it; these 17 days of strike action will cause severe disruption to thousands of easyJet passengers using Stansted for their summer holidays.

“A major bone of contention is that workers employed by other companies at Stansted are being paid up to 20 per cent more for doing the same job.

“But our Stobart members experience staffing issues, a lack of basics such as drinking water during their long shifts and many other smaller but none the less important issues that are ignored due to not having proper trade union recognition.”

Unite held talks with Stobart last week but said the company was “dismissive” of the pay claim.

Will the strike affect my holiday?

EasyJet says it has “contingency plans” in place for the strike action by its check-in staff. However, the warning about “check-in chaos” suggest holidaymakers should get to Stansted with plenty of time to spare.

If your flight is delayed because of the strike, easyJet is obliged to offer you assistance, such as food, drink and overnight accommodation, if the delay is expected to go beyond a certain point.

Whether you’ll be offered compensation for delayed or cancelled flights due to strike action is a grey area.

Ryanair cancelled hundreds of flights last summer due to strike action by pilots and crew. The budget airline refused to pay compensation to affected passengers, saying strikes were an “extraordinary circumstance” and that courts in Germany, Spain and Italy had already ruled that the EU’s compensation rules didn’t apply.

However, the Civil Aviation Authority said in its view, the strikes were not “extraordinary circumstances”, and that customers should be compensated. The CAA started enforcement action against Ryanair in December.

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