TODAY, members of the Unite union at Heathrow Airport Ltd (HAL) are out on strike over the ‘fire and rehire’ of 4,000 workers on new contracts – which include pay cuts of up to £8,000 a year.
The one-day strike, described by the Unite leadership as ‘targeted strike action’, is due to be followed with a further one day stoppage on Monday 14 December and then two further strikes of 48 hours each on Thursday 17 and Friday 18 December.
These strikes follow an overwhelming vote amongst Unite’s HAL members of 85% in favour of strikes over the fire and rehire wage cutting onslaught against not just HAL workers but across the board by the numerous employers at Heathrow.
In the face of this brutal assault on wages and conditions, Unite members, (including firefighters, engineers, campus security, baggage operations, central terminal operations, and landside and airside workers) demonstrated their determination to fight by recording the overwhelming vote for action.
But the issue is: will four days of strike action spread over weeks defeat an employer determined to inflict savage wage cuts and job cuts throughout the airport? The answer is certainly a resounding No!
What is at stake for the bosses is not just getting over some temporary drop in profits due to coronavirus but a thought-out campaign to permanently slash the wages and conditions of every worker at Heathrow and the wholesale slaughter of jobs at the airport.
Faced with this onslaught, and the determination of its members to fight for their rights, Unite leaders have been forced to call extremely limited action in the hope that this will prevent the anger of workers erupting into a much larger scale of industrial action.
In fact all along, the Unite leadership have worked flat out to find a deal with the management that could pass off as a victory to prevent strike action.
They have boasted that ‘Unite has put forward several alternative suggestions to reduce staffing costs on a temporary basis, all of which have been summarily rejected by management.’
One of the ways the union seriously proposed to ‘reduce staffing costs’ was to offer for their members to repay last year’s bonus to the company!
All their offers of members paying to help out the company profits were rejected with contempt by the bosses, who know full well that the leadership of Unite are cowardly little reformists who will do everything to hold back their members from a real fight against the employers and the massive airline industry.
The bosses don’t need to make any deals – they know these ‘leaders’ would rather sell their members down the river than lead a fight.
The bosses are confident Unite leaders will do everything to contain action to one-day protests and to make sure that the workers at Heathrow are split into small sections and kept from a united strike action.
While all the employers at Heathrow are united in pursuing the same policy of fire and rehire, the unions are making sure that each different section is balloting for action at different times.
Cargo workers employed by British Airways based at Heathrow, who face exactly the same attack, will not have the result of the strike ballot announced until after Monday 7th December.
Workers at Heathrow must unite across every union and every section to confront the bosses not with one-day protest strikes but by calling an all-out indefinite strike of the airport.
The present leadership of Unite are opposed to this fight and they must be removed.
Unite members must demand an emergency conference of the entire union to expel these leaders and replace them with a new leadership prepared to lead not just an all-out strike at Heathrow but to fight for a general strike to kick out the Tories and bring in a workers government that will nationalise the airline industry and place it under the management of the working class under a socialist planned economy.
Only the WRP fights to build this revolutionary leadership. Join today, there is not a moment to lose.