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Martins Malomo
Job title
Unite rep
Inflation was hammering the pay of DHL easyJet staff at Gatwick Airport and pay claim offers were pitiful, while directors enjoyed huge bonuses. But after a 98% ballot for strike action bosses were forced to listen up – and staff negotiated a brilliant 15% pay rise.

At Gatwick Airport, DHL easyJet staff manage the safe take-off and landing of a plane every 2-3 minutes. But their pay did not reflect this workload or level of responsibility. Unite rep and flight coordinator Martins Malomo spoke to the TUC about the campaign. 

Martins said: “Customer-facing staff and flight coordinators are seen as ambassadors for the thousands of people arriving at Gatwick every day. We manage 75-80% of all the arrivals and departures to the airport.” 


“The work is relentless, and the employer is making huge profits – but they didn’t want to pay fairly. Reps have to face workplace problems head on, even though there is a lot of resistance from employers. At DHL easyJet we faced problems like overworking, staff shortages, and low pay that was being even further hammered by inflation. All of these things together were grinding people into a state of depression." 

“Employers are very good at maximising loopholes too."

"They would claim to be a family friendly employer, then find every way they could to wriggle out of supporting staff. We got to a point where we simply said no more."

Overcoming employer tactics

Martins told us: “The pay claim was a huge issue. The bosses kept saying there was no money for an increase, but during the process three directors received huge bonuses – and they had the cheek to tell us there was no money!” 

“They also kept making low offers and dragging the negotiations out. We persevered. When we asked our members, they said they would not accept anything less than a 10% pay rise. That meant we needed more leverage. We balloted our members and 98% of the membership voted for industrial action. When management saw that figure, the offers quickly got better.” 

Union power 

Martins continued: “Eventually, after months of negotiation, we won a 15% pay rise, backdated, plus skills pay (pay for workers with special skill sets). That is a 25% increase in pay over the last 2 years, even for the lowest paid worker.” 

“The members were over the moon! Especially when the backdated payment came through and some people were getting up to £7,000. We felt so good, so happy, and so relieved. It was a huge win after a lot of work and it was well-deserved. The staff at DHL easyJet work so hard, they deserve every penny.” 

Martins said: “Next month we start the process all over again for this year’s pay claim. My advice to workers is to not underestimate the benefits of being part of a union, especially if you want things to change for the better in your place of work.” 

“Think carefully and be a union member – it is worth it.” 

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