ENGINEERS AT British Airways voted by over two to one to reject a 3 percent pay offer that was tied to a new swipe card time recording system. The introduction of the swipe card system was the issue that saw check-in staff take extremely effective unofficial action at Heathrow two months ago.
BA engineers, like the check-in staff, believe that the swipe cards will be used to force them to work split shifts, disrupting their family lives. They had already voted once to reject using the swipe cards for checking out of work before the check-in workers' walkout.
The two votes show that the general feeling against what management is trying to do exists across the airport. The engineers are angry about the same things as the mainly women check-in staff. Their dispute has a slower burning fuse only because there is no obvious flash point. The engineers are members of the Amicus, GMB and TGWU unions. They are an incredibly powerful group of workers who have the power to bring Heathrow airport to a standstill.
Talks between the engineers' unions and BA bosses were talking place when Socialist Worker went to press.