According to UK trade union Unite, easyJet passengers at Gatwick face spring misery as DHL ground handlers consider strike action.

Unite said in a statement that its members employed by DHL on easyJet’s ground handling contract at Gatwick Airport are moving towards industrial action this spring in a dispute over low pay.

The 500 plus strong workforce are seeking a sizeable pay increase to return pay rates to at least pre-pandemic levels, following successive pay freezes in 2020 and 2021, the union announced.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite is totally committed to improving the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and it will be providing its full support to our members at DHL and workers throughout the aviation sector to ensure they secure decent pay.”

The workforce has been offered a pay increase for 2022 of between 7.54% and 8.32% but Unite believes this is unlikely to meet workers aspirations. The pay freezes in 2020 and 2021 coincided with an accumulative inflation increase of 9.33%.

Unite members are currently being balloted on whether to accept the offer or instead move to a full industrial action ballot. The result will be known on Monday February 14.

The pay dispute comes at a time when there are growing staff shortages in the aviation sector. As the sector returns to normality following the pandemic, companies throughout the sector are struggling to recruit workers, due to the low pay, unsocial hours and poor conditions on offer, Unite said.