Heathrow threatened with “shut down” by strikes over pay
Six days of walkouts could bring the airport to a halt
Britain’s largest airport, Heathrow, may be hit with waves of strikes over the summer as the Unite union has threatened a “shut down” over pay.
4,000 workers may down tools, including security guards, engineers, passenger service operatives and passenger service drivers.
The strikes have been called for Friday 26 July and Saturday 27 July, Monday 5 August and Tuesday 6 August, and Friday 23 August and Saturday 24 August. This includes two of the airport’s busiest weekends.
Unite says that their members are seeking a pay deal which recognizes their role in keeping passengers safe and on the move. They say they have rejected an increase of 2.7 per cent, saying this amounts to just £3.75 extra per day for the lowest paid workers involved.
Heathrow has said it will implement contingency plans to ensure the airport continues to operate and so that passenger disruption is minimized. It claims to have offered a pay rise of 4.6 per cent to more than 70 per cent of workers.
British Airways, the largest carrier at the airport, have said they expect operations to continue as normal.
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A spokesperson for Heathrow said: “We are disappointed that Unite will be taking strike action. Following this decision, we will be implementing contingency plans that will ensure the airport remains open and operating safely throughout any coordinated action.
“We will be working alongside our airline partners to minimize disruption caused to passengers as they look towards their well-deserved summer holidays.
“We are proud of our record as a good employer and we remain committed to finding a solution. We have proposed a progressive pay package giving at least a 4.6 per cent pay rise to over 70 per cent of our frontline colleagues.
“The total package offered is above RPI and is specifically designed to boost the wages of lower paid colleagues. We have invited our union colleagues back to the table and urge them to continue working with us to reach an agreement.”
Wayne King, Unite’s regional coordinating officer, said: “There is deepening anger over pay among workers who are essential to the smooth running of Heathrow Airport.
“They are fed up of being expected to accept crumbs while the chief executive pockets an eye popping 103 per cent rise in his pay package and shareholders are handed dividends of over £2 billion in the last two years alone.
“To add insult to injury there are widening pay disparities leading to airport security guards employed after 2014 earning up to £6,000 less than colleagues hired before that date.
“Bosses at Heathrow Airport need to get their heads out of the sand and start negotiating meaningfully over pay. Otherwise there will be significant disruption to flights to and from Heathrow and the potential closure of the airport over the summer months because of industrial action.