Chessington ride engineers to strike over pay

Vampire, Chessington World of Adventures

Engineers working at Chessington World of Adventures have voted to go on strike during several periods from 28 April, it has been announced.

In a statement released on Thursday afternoon, the Merlin Entertainments-operated theme park said that “some” of its engineers would take part in industrial action.

Four Friday-through Monday dates have been selected, with Chessington saying it was “committed to reaching and agreement to resolve the matter”.

The Surrey park said that it would remain open on the days impacted, but had temporarily taken tickets off sale for the affected dates, which are (inclusive):

  • 28 April to Monday 1 May
  • 5 May to 8 May
  • 12 May to 15 May
  • 26 May to 29 May

The weekend dates appear to have been selected for maximum effect, with the period including three UK bank holidays and a school half-term.

Reduced capacity

Chessington said it would reduce the park’s guest capacity by two thirds on the affected dates, also intending to operate only 40% of its rides.

The Dragon’s Fury, Croc Drop, Kobra, Rattlesnake and Tiger Rock rides will all be closed.

The new World of Jumanji area is scheduled to open for the first time on 15 May, with a preview event taking place the day before.

Chessington said that the area – which includes the Mandrill Mayhem rollercoaster – will open as planned.

According to the Indeed job market website, the average Mechanical Engineer yearly pay at Chessington World of Adventures is circa £37,900, about 7% above the national average.

‘Real-terms pay cut’

Last year, the Unite union secured recognition for workers at the theme park. The union was solely recognised for collective bargaining on pay, working hours and holiday.

Unite said that Merlin was an “extremely wealthy” company, seeking to impose a real-terms pay cut on engineering staff.

Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham
Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham has taken a prominent role in the dispute

Its general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Merlin Attractions is an extremely wealthy company which is anticipating a bumper year. It can fully afford to make a fair pay offer to its workers, but it has chosen not to do so.

“The engineers are critical to the safe and smooth operation of Chessington, so their employer should be rewarding them for their vital work instead of seeking to impose a real terms pay cut.

“Unite always prioritises the jobs, pay and conditions of its members, our engineers at Chessington will receive the union’s complete support.”

The latest official UK inflation figure is 10.1%. It is not clear what pay offer been offered to Chessington’s engineering staff, but Unite has been approached for comment.