Strike threat for Heathrow
By Bev Fearis, published 7/10/20
Heathrow faces risk of strike action next month by security officers, engineers, firefighters and other workers.
Members of Unite employed directly by Heathrow will begin balloting for industrial action tomorrow (October 8) after the airport decided to issue formal notice of their intention to ‘fire and rehire’ staff.
The ballot closes on November 5 and, if members vote for industrial action, strikes could begin later in November.
At a meeting on Monday, MPs representing constituencies around the airport challenged Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye over the company’s decision.
The MPs particularly criticised the airport for making the cuts permanent, rather than considering temporary changes to get through the impact of the pandemic.
Workers face losing up to £8,000 per year, around 25% of their total income, says the union.
James Murray, MP Ealing North, said: “There is no excuse for Heathrow making these damaging and permanent cuts to their employees’ terms, conditions and pay. We have been pushing the government to help the aviation industry as one of those sectors hit hardest by the Covid-19 outbreak, but Heathrow needs to play its part too and think again.”
Unite Regional Co-ordinating Officer Wayne King said: “The support of local MPs is warmly welcomed by our members who are facing losing their homes, being forced to downsize or being denied the chance to start a family due to the planned cuts in pay. Heathrow Airport Ltd must take the concerns of MPs on board, withdraw its hire and fire proposals and return to the negotiating table.”
Heathrow said it remained committed to working with unions to reach a solution.
“We have proposed a sustainable offer which guarantees a job at a market-rate salary for everyone who wants one,” said a spokesman.
“Our August passenger numbers were down 82% on last year and most long-haul markets remain closed due to the Government’s quarantine policy. Heathrow cannot continue to operate as it did prior to the pandemic, but by negotiating with our unions we hope to come to an agreement which will help the airport to weather the challenging future ahead.”