Heathrow Airport flights could face disruption this month and in August as staff threaten to go on strike. Workers across the airport’s five terminals have announced a series of strikes in a dispute over pay, Unite the union has said. Over 4,000 workers, including security guards, engineers, passenger service operatives and passenger service drivers, are set to walk out on Friday 26 July and Saturday 27 July, Monday 5 August and Tuesday 6 August, and Friday 23 August and Saturday 24 August. Unite claimed in a statement that the move “could potentially shut down the airport.”
Unite represents over 4,000 Heathrow Airport workers who are involved in the pay dispute.
The industrial action comes after the workers backed strike action in eight separate strike ballots.
Unite said in a statement that the planned strikes follow the rejection of an 18-month pay offer amounting to 2.7 per cent, which, according to the union, amounts to £3.75 extra a day for the lowest paid workers involved in the dispute.
Unite regional coordinating officer Wayne King said: “There is deepening anger over pay among workers who are essential to the smooth running of Heathrow Airport.”
He added: “Unite members ensured over 80 million passengers passed safely through Heathrow in the last 12 months and contributed massively to the airport’s huge profits last year.
“Unite and our members support Heathrow expansion and are working hard to deliver it, but we will not allow Heathrow bosses to get away with low pay.
“All our members are seeking is a pay deal that recognises their important role in keeping passengers safe and on the move, in addition to a commitment by Heathrow bosses to close pay disparities which are leading to a high turnover of staff.
“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.”
So will this affect passengers due to fly from Heathrow on the potentially affected dates?
The airport has said they will put contingency plans in place to limit disruption to travellers.
A Heathrow spokesperson 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 minimise 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.”
The news comes as easyJet check-in staff at Stansted Airport also threaten strike action this month and next.