Unite confirms Heathrow strike plans for April
Unite has announced up to 41 strikes at Heathrow Airport this spring as part of a bitter dispute over what the union says is the firing and rehiring of employees.
The union claims workers have seen pay “slashed” and conditions reduced as a result.
Targeted strike action will begin on Friday, April 2nd and there will be 41 strikes over a 23-day period.
The final strike scheduled for Sunday, April 25th.
The “targeted” strike action will involve engineering, airside operations, landside operations, fire service, campus security and central terminal operations.
Each sector will be taking seven days of strike action.
During the strike period at least one of the sectors will be on strike on most days.
The dispute is a result of a decision by Heathrow Airport Limited to fire and rehire its 4,000 strong workforce.
Workers have experienced pay cuts of up to £8,000 (25 per cent of earnings) and report being forced to downsize, move to cheaper areas or give up their car, as a result.
Unite has described the decision to fire and rehire the workers as being all about greed and not about need.
The length of the forthcoming strike is now longer than had been initially intended, following a recent decision by HAL to not pay a worker for a complete shift if the worker is on strike for any of that time – a move which has further harmed industrial relations.
Unite regional co-ordinating officer, Wayne King, said: “These strike days are avoidable, yet Heathrow is not listening.
“HAL railroaded these pay cuts through at a staggering speed, leaving thousands of workers on less pay just before Christmas.
“But while Unite put forward clear proposals in February to resolve the dispute, the company has yet to give any kind of formal response.”
He added: “This speaks volumes about the kind of industrial relations HAL wants and how its management views our members.”
Heathrow has been seeking to cut costs after seeing passenger numbers fall back to those last seen in the 1960s.
A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Every frontline colleague has accepted the new offer which pays above the market rate and London Living wage.
“Nobody has been fired and re-hired and indeed 48 per cent saw no change or experienced a pay increase.
“In addition, we have also launched a business recovery incentive payment to all colleagues which offers a renumeration reward if the airport has recovered sufficiently in two years’ time.
“Despite losses of over £2 billion since the start of the pandemic, our approach has protected jobs and avoided huge swathes of compulsory redundancies.
“These strikes unnecessarily threaten further damage to the business, but nevertheless, we have activated extensive contingency plans which will keep the airport open and operating safely over strike days.”