Check-in staff working at Stansted for easyJet have announced a series of strikes every weekend during the main school summer holidays in a dispute over pay.
Their union, Unite warns: “Thousands of easyJet passengers could face severe delays.”
But a spokesperson for easyJet said: “Should this go ahead we plan to have contingency plans in place so there should be no impact on our passengers.”
Industrial action is set to begin at 3.30am Thursday 25 July, with a five-day strike to the early hours of Monday 29 July.
There will then be stoppages every weekend in August: 2 to 5, 9 to 12, 16 to 19 and 23 to 27.
The 43 passenger service agents are employed by Stobart Aviation Services Ltd, which has the easyJet handling contract at Stansted.
Unite says the workers voted unanimously to strike over what it says is the company’s refusal to match pay at similar companies at Stansted.
It claims workers employed by other companies at Stansted are being paid up to 20 per cent more for doing the same job.
Unite also claims Stobart refuses to recognise the union for collective bargaining purposes, though The Independent understands the company is currently considering a draft negotiation agreement.
The union’s regional officer Mark Barter said: “These 17 days of strike action will cause severe disruption to thousands of easyJet passengers using Stansted for their summer holidays.
“But our Stobart members experience staffing issues, a lack of basics such as drinking water during their long shifts and many other smaller but nonetheless important issues that are ignored due to not having proper trade union recognition.”
No progress was made in talks held last week, he said.
“However, there is a window of opportunity for the management to sit down with Unite and hold constructive talks to resolve this strike before the travel chaos kicks in on 25 July.
The union has urged passengers to contact easyJet and ask the airline to put pressure on Stobart to give ground.
The easyJet spokesperson said: “We would urge Stobart Aviation and Unite to reach a suitable resolution as soon as possible.”
The Independent has asked Stobart to respond.