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Heathrow set for more disruption as refuellers strike

An impending refuellers strike could result in further flight delays and caps on passengers at Heathrow Airport in London.

London’s Heathrow airport, which is suffering from flight delays and caps on passengers owing to staff shortages, faces further disruption as refuellers strike later this week, a union announced Tuesday.

Workers employed by Aviation Fuel Services plan to strike from early Thursday through to early Sunday, trade union Unite said in a statement.

Unite said AFS was responsible for refuelling half of the non-British Airways traffic at Heathrow

Affected airlines included Air France, American, Delta, Emirates, KLM, Singapore, United and Virgin Atlantic, it added.

“AFS is wholly owned by incredibly wealthy energy companies who are entirely able to provide our members with a decent pay increase,” said Unite general secretary Sharon Graham.

“This is yet another example of energy companies boosting profits at the expense of workers.”

News of the strike comes as official data Tuesday showed UK wages being eroded at a record pace because of decades-high inflation.

Unite said AFS staff had rejected a pay increase of 10 percent, with British annual inflation set to top that amount this year on soaring energy and food prices.

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Following news of the stoppages, Heathrow said it was in discussions with airlines over “contingency plans they can implement, including using other fuel suppliers already operating at the airport”.  

It comes as airlines and airports struggle to recruit staff having sacked thousands of workers as the world entered Covid pandemic lockdowns.

Britain is experiencing a summer of strike action as workers endure a cost-of-living crisis.

While some walkouts have been called off at the last minute, including by postal workers, as improved pay deals are finally agreed, others are likely to go ahead.

Later this month, telecoms giant BT is set to face its first strike by wokers since 1987.

It comes as railway staff prepare for further stoppages having last month carried out their biggest walkout in decades.

State-employed lawyers are also striking, while teachers and workers for the National Health Service are mulling action.

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