Daily Mail - 01.08.2019

(Jacob Rumans) #1
Daily Mail, Thursday, August 1, 2019 Page 



Chaos over walkout ballot by Heathrow staff

A MILITANT union was last night forced to
shut down a ballot on strike action at Hea-
throw amid fears it can easily be rigged.
The row erupted after a Mail investigation
discovered that anyone with internet access
was able to vote online to inflict summer
holiday strike chaos at Britain’s busiest air-
port. The Unite union had asked members
employed directly by Heathrow whether
they wanted to accept an improved pay deal
using a popular online polling website.
If workers reject the latest deal and there
is no last minute breakthrough with bosses,

more than 4,000 workers employed by the
airport – including security staff, baggage
handlers and engineers – are set to walk out
next Monday and Tuesday.
Despite so much being at stake, Unite
polled its members’ views via a one-ques-
tion ballot which anyone with a computer or
smart phone could access. The ‘consultative
ballot’, which recommends rejecting the
new offer, required no log-in details or pass-
words so there was no way of checking those

voting were actually union members. All
that was needed was a link to the survey,
which was easily shared on email.
But it was possible to vote multiple times,
as long as a different computer or phone is
used. Voting was set to close at midday
tomorrow, but soon after being contacted by
the Mail last night, Unite said it had can-
celled the ballot with immediate effect. The
union said it had been alerted about ‘rogue
behaviour’ from an individual before claim-
ing it had been ‘sabotaged’ by an airport offi-
cial who it did not name. It said a new online

vote would be conducted with ‘additional
individual verification checks being made to
ensure the veracity of the indicative vote.’
Chris Philp, a Tory MP who has campaigned
for tougher anti-strike laws, said: ‘It is dis-
graceful that no security precautions appear
to have been taken on this vote which could
inflict misery on thousands of holidaymakers.
This should be investigated.’
When told of the ballot, Heathrow expressed
concerns about the ‘significant loophole’ in
Unite’s ‘consultative process’ and raised con-
cerns about the ‘legitimacy’ of the vote.

By Transport Editor

chief Brian
and his
wife Sue
in Valencia

Basking in Spain,

£141k a year union

boss plotting action

SITTING by a glorious sandy By Transport Editor
beach in the Spanish sun-
shine, this is the £141,000-a-
year union activist plotting
strike chaos over the sum-
mer holidays.
Brian Strutton and his wife
Sue enjoyed a trip to Valen-
cia in April, posting a picture
of their sun-drenched break.
While there they dropped in
at a cookery school – the
Escuela de Arroces y Paella
Valenciana – to learn how to
cook the city’s traditional
paella dish.
Mr Strutton later posted on
Twitter: ‘Just had a fabulous
mini-break in Valencia, what
a great city. Loved it.’
Since returning to the UK,

the 9-year-old union vet-
eran has been busy orches-
trating a mass strike by Brit-
ish Airways pilots that could
scupper the holiday plans for
hundreds of thousands of
As general secretary of the
little-known British Airline
Pilots Association (Balpa), it
has emerged that Mr Strut-
ton is paid a similar six-figure
salary to many of the pilots
he represents.
According to Balpa’s latest
financial accounts, he
received a total pay pack-
age worth just under
£141,00. This included a basic

salary worth £107,62. The
previous year he was paid
£1,242 – around £,
more than the prime minis-
ter received that year.
But his generous pay pack-
age may rankle with Britons
on far more modest incomes
who have been saving up for
their summer holiday all year

  • and who may this month
    bear the brunt of the pilots’
    dispute as they face chaos at
    Heathrow and Gatwick.
    A Balpa spokesman said:
    ‘We understand the frustra-
    tion and worry that possible
    industrial action in British
    Airways will cause for the
    travelling public, which is
    why we’re doing everything
    we can to avoid taking indus-
    trial action.
    ‘Pilots have a legitimate dis-
    pute with their employer and
    not the travelling public. BA
    made a £2billion profit last
    year and pilots are legiti-
    mately asking for a fair share
    of the profit they contribute
    to.’ Pilots are paid an aver-
    age basic salary of £167,000.
    On top of this they receive an
    hourly flying allowance
    whenever they are on duty
    worth between £14,000 and
    £1,000 a year.
    But Balpa points out that
    many are paid far less, with
    entry-level pilots paid just
    £26,000 – and many are still
    also repaying their training
    debts of up to £100,000.

and worry’
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