Heathrow Airport: Workers vote on strike action that could disrupt Easter holidays

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Unite the union says over 3,000 of its members working as security guards, engineers and firefighters will begin balloting for strike action on Friday February 17.

Airport workers at Heathrow are set to vote on whether to strike in a dispute over pay in a move that could disrupt Easter holidays.

Unite the union says over 3,000 of its members working as security guards, engineers and firefighters will begin balloting for strike action on Friday February 17.

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A decision on the industrial action will be made after the ballot closes on March 17.

The workers have rejected a 10% increase, which Unite said is in effect a pay cut, with the latest figures on the rate of inflation (RPI) standing at 13.4%.

Heathrow workers to vote on possible strike action over the Easter holidays. Credit: Getty ImagesHeathrow workers to vote on possible strike action over the Easter holidays. Credit: Getty Images
Heathrow workers to vote on possible strike action over the Easter holidays. Credit: Getty Images | Getty Images

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Heathrow Airport is guilty of gross hypocrisy, it is paying telephone number salaries to its chief executive and senior managers, but the workers who make the company a success are on poverty wages.

“Unite never takes a backward step when fighting for its members’, jobs, pay and conditions and our members at Heathrow Airport will receive the union’s complete support.”

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Staff are reporting that due to a combination of low pay and the cost of living crisis they are unable to make ends meet, the union said, adding “a security guard at the airport is paid as little as £24,000 a year”.

This year’s Easter bank holiday takes place between Friday April 7 to Monday April 10.

Easter holidays for most schools will be from March 29 to April 12.

If Heathrow staff vote in favour of strike action, it is likely to take place across the Easter period to maximise disruption.

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Unite regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King said: “If our members at Heathrow Airport Ltd (HAL) take strike action it will inevitably cause severe disruption throughout Heathrow with delays, disruption and cancellations of flights inevitable.

“This dispute is of HAL’s own making. Its employees, are struggling to make ends meet, HAL has the opportunity to ease their financial burden but is refusing to step up and do the right thing.

“This isn’t about what our members want, this is about what they need for them and their families. This is about need not greed.”

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “We are extremely disappointed that Unite is tabling a formal ballot for industrial action.

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“This step unnecessarily escalates matters and if strikes do go ahead the pay offer will be withdrawn.

“Since last November, discussions with our unions have resulted in an offer of a 10% increase on salary, shift pay and allowances this year on top of a 4% increase 6 months ago – this is despite Heathrow remaining loss-making and with significant uncertainties facing our business, including the spectre of COVID travel restrictions which we have already seen re-introduced just this year.”

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