Should You Panic About The “easyJet” Stansted Strike?

43 members of check-in staff are due to go on strike at Stansted Airport. The staff, who work for Stobart Aviation, operate easyJet’s check-in operation at the airport. Unite says this could cause severe disruption for passengers.

easyJet Stobart Air Unite Strike
Unite has warned that a Stobart Aviation strike will cause severe disruption for easyJet passengers. Photo: easyJet

Unite, the union representing the workers has claimed that the 17 days of strikes will cause easyJet’s Stansted passengers to experience ‘severe disruption’. Meanwhile, easyJet told Simple Flying that contingency plans were in place. These, they say, will mean that passengers experience no disruption. Clearly, these two views are polar opposites, so who should you believe? Simple Flying takes a look into the situation.

About the strike

43 employees of Stobart Aviation are going on strike for five sets of dates:

  • 25th to 29th of July;
  • 2nd to 5th of August;
  • 9th to 12th of August;
  • 16th to 19th of August;
  • 23rd to 27th of August.

The strike is regarding pay which the Stobart Aviation employees receive. According to Unite, the union representing the employees, other workers at Stansted Airport doing the same job are being paid 20% more than the Stobart Aviation employees.

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Unite goes on to mention that staff are having to work long shifts with little access to drinking water.

easyJet Stobart Air Unite Strike
easyJet claims contingency plans will mitigate the strike action. Photo: easyJet

Unite’s view

Unite issued a press release on the matter painted a picture of chaos at Stansted Airport during the strikes. The group’s regional leader commented,

“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.”

He went on to add: “We held talks with the bosses of Stobart Aviation Services Limited last week and they were frankly dismissive of our pay claim, with a senior manager even stating that staff are handsomely paid”.

Simple Flying contacted a representative of Unite to ask for some clarification regarding the claim of severe disruption. They told us that they stand by their press release and that it is up for passengers to decide which claim to believe.

easyJet’s view

easyJet believes that the strike will have no direct impact on passengers traveling on these dates. An easyJet spokesperson told Simple Flying,

“We are aware dates have been published for proposed industrial action by Stobart Aviation check-in staff at London Stansted Airport. Should this go ahead we plan to have contingency arrangements in place so there should be no impact on our passengers. Despite this, we would urge Stobart Aviation and Unite to reach a suitable resolution as soon as possible.”

easyJet Stobart Air Unite Strike
The strike is planned for 17 days over July and August. Photo: easyJet

Should passengers worry?

The answer to this question entirely depends on which argument you choose to believe. Should there be severe disruption, then passengers likely should worry. However, if it is business as usual, then clearly this is a non-issue.

Personally, I feel that the actual effect of the strike action will fall somewhere in the middle. Given that the airline has 14,000 employees as of September 2018, I’m sure they have the resources to compensate for the 43 striking workers. However, there is a chance that there could be some confusion, leading to some minor disruption.

Given that this is purely speculation, I would recommend planning for disruption for any passengers booked to travel on these dates. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry! Additionally, there is the chance that Stobart and Unite settle their differences beforehand, therefore averting a strike altogether.

In fact, a Stobart Aviation spokesperson told Simple Flying,

“Stobart Aviation Services has, and will continue to engage with Unite and its representatives to reach an agreement on union recognition for our Front of House teams at London Stansted. We believe that our active engagement to date has resulted in good progress. We are therefore disappointed to have now received notice of potential action. However, we will continue to engage directly with Unite in order to deliver an agreement. “

Do you think easyJet’s Stansted operations will suffer disruption from the strikes? Let us know your views in the comments!

7 comments
  1. Well, it’s summer in Europe, so it’s the natural season for Aviation strikes 🙁
    It’s not just Easyjet: British Airways pilots are also probably going to strike, and there’s a strike on the cards at KLM.
    It’s an awful pity that employment laws in many European countries are still skewed so heavily in favor of the employee (who basically only has rights) at the expense of the employer (who basically only has obligations).

    1. It almost feels callous that they deliberately plan them for summer season. While I understand they want maximum publicity, the people they’re really hurting are the families (like mine) with kids who want to get away for a few days. As if tripling the price of flights in school holidays wasn’t painful enough already…

      1. You can be absolutely certain that they plan them to coincide with the high season!
        Prepare for more action as we approach Christmas / new year.
        It’s really immoral!

        1. Immoral??
          What actually is immoral here is the blatant disregard people here have towards fellow human beings that may not be as fortunate as you.
          ive seen how hard these people work and the sometimes appalling conditions they have to endure just so that people can get away on their cheap holidays .. and what makes it worse is that
          they get paid a pittance.

          All they are trying to do is to make a better deal for themselves and their families…and unfortunately in todays industrial landscape, striking seems to be the only way. You seriously can’t blame them.

          1. Yes, actually, we CAN blame them.
            In return for their work, they get paid a salary. If they’re not happy with their salary and working conditions, they should change job…just like the rest of us do.
            It isn’t “disregard”…it’s called a market price. Labor is a commodity, just like anything else. A cake costs more than a loaf of bread; if the bread baker doesn’t like that, he can change profession and become a cake baker instead.
            Using blackmail to “make a better deal for themselves and their families” is disgusting.

          2. I certainly don’t disregard people who are not as fortunate as I, in fact, I completely sympathize with the plight of teachers, nurses, cabin crew etc. who decide to take industrial action over pay. However, there are some subtle differences between the issues raised here. Teachers are paid a set salary, regardless of which school they work in, which is based on qualifications and experience – at least that’s how it works here in the UK. It’s the same for nurses. When they strike, they are lobbying the government to increase that standard wage, not just trying to cripple their employer. When it involves cabin crew, pilots or, as in this case, ground crew, what they are disgruntled about is what they get paid in comparison to a worker from a different company. That’s a business matter, not a political one, and as Nigel pointed out, they could go and get a job for a better paying employer relatively easily. Taking it out on innocent travellers is just not fair… they should vote with their feet and find work elsewhere. Teachers, nurses etc. do not have that choice.

  2. Being allowed to drink water is a simple basic human right! Simple as that!! Hey we are talking about water! I worked at Gibair ground handling at Gibraltar Airport and staff were told that if they were caught drinking water in public they would be sent home and there would be disciplinary action taken!!! No wonder this company has an extremely high staff turnover!! Also we were expected to work long shifts with flight delays and flight diversions to airports in Spain and staff welfare needs were not always met.We also had to escort passengers to airports in another country and in most instances we were working shifts of 13 14 15 and 16 hours putting our lives in danger with inclement weather on the roads,so I say to Stobart Aviation at Stanstead Airport well done in fighting for Your rights and I am sorry for the passengers but sometimes it is the only way to get our message across and be heard! No wonder staff sickness levels at Gibaor reached a crescendo high! You lost many good and dedicated workers.A loss to the aviation world.

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