Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) workers are on picket lines today in the first of four days of strike action called to fight the savage wage cuts imposed on the 4,000-strong workforce through a brutal ‘fire and rehire’ programme.
The union Unite recorded an 84 per cent yes vote among its members at HAL, in opposition to the fire and rehire policies that will result in workers suffering permanent pay cuts of up to £8,000 per annum, which is 25 per cent of their take home pay.
Firefighters, engineers, campus security, baggage operations, central terminal operations, landside and airside operations are taking strike action today, and then on Monday 14th December, followed by a two-day strike on Thursday and Friday 17th and 18th December.
The strike action today is ‘highly symbolic’, said Unite, as it is the day when the new ‘poverty’ contracts begin to take effect.
Unite regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King said: ‘Workers face losing their homes and surrendering their cars due to the savage cuts being imposed on them.’
He went on to admit: ‘Unite have tried to negotiate temporary pay cuts but Heathrow were simply not interested.’
Tens of thousands of Heathrow Airport workers are facing similar attacks to those being fought today by the HAL strikers.
Peter Gardner, British Airways (BA) engineering worker and Unite member, told News Line yesterday afternoon: ‘The union is compartmentalising things.
‘They don’t want the ground staff to know what the cabin crew are going through, they don’t want the engineers knowing what the ramp staff are going through because obviously this would lead to incitement.
‘Bad news is infectious, so if you’ve got a department of disgruntled baggage handlers and they were able to speak to another department facing the same type of attack, they don’t want colluding, they don’t want people banding together.
‘This is where it all goes wrong. GMB and Unite and all the other unions should be having a united front. What are they doing? The question now is are the unions doing a good enough job and the answer is no.
‘The whole airport should be called out along with the umbrella companies that service the sector – caterers, cleaners, refuellers, sections of engineers, Do and Co, Menzies, which is a huge arm of the airport services, Ground Global, Alpha OCS, DHL – tens of thousands of workers who are looking to their unions to protect them.
‘We’ve faced fire and rehire, huge pay and conditions cuts, the imposition of weeks of unpaid leave, the destruction of unsocial hours payments. Now that a section is starting action they must be joined by the rest. Call the airport out!’
Unite said: ‘An ad van portraying Heathrow’s chief executive officer John Holland Kaye as the Grinch alongside the message “Heathrow Grinch CEO is stealing workers’ wages” will be unveiled for a photo opportunity at 11:00 outside Unite House, 99 New Road, Harlington, Middx UB3 5BQ. Local MPs and striking Heathrow workers will be in attendance.
‘Unite will be maintaining three strictly socially distanced picket lines during the dispute at Hatton Cross tube station TW6 3PF, on Bath Road by the A4 roundabout TW6 2AA and also on Bath Road near the ambulance/fire house TW6 2AA.’