WORKERS at Heathrow Airport will next week step up strike action in their increasingly bitter dispute over massive wage cuts that the company is imposing on them through a controversial fire and rehire policy.
The workers will be taking a second day of targeted strike action on Monday 14 December and will be staging a huge car-based rally, while also maintaining socially distanced picket lines around Heathrow.
Speakers at the protest will include several local MPs, including John McDonnell MP and James Murray MP, as well as local councillors and representatives of the striking workers. The workers will remain in their cars throughout the protest to avoid the risk of spreading Covid-19.
Unite will be maintaining three strictly socially distanced picket lines during the strike at Hatton Cross Tube station TW6 3PF, on the Bath Road by the A4 roundabout TW6 2AA and also on the Bath Road near the ambulance/fire house TW6 2AA.
Unite members recorded an 84 per cent vote in favour of strike action. As a result, Unite is taking targeted strike action involving firefighters, engineers, campus security, baggage operations, central terminal operations and landside and airside operations.
The dispute is a result of Heathrow Airport Limited’s (HAL) decision to fire and rehire its 4,000 employees on vastly inferior contracts. Unite members are facing permanent pay cuts up to 25 per cent of their pay (£8,000 per annum).
Unite has warned that despite Heathrow airport continuing to operate during the strikes, management has failed to provide details of its contingency plans and questions remain about safety.
Unite will be holding a further two days of strike action this week on Thursday 17 and Friday 18 December. The strikes will occur at a time when the airport is increasingly busy due to the pre-Christmas getaway.
Unite regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King said: ‘Workers will be ramping up strike action this week as HAL has refused to withdraw its decision to brutally fire and rehire its loyal staff.
‘The airport’s success was built on its workforce, who have continued to ensure it operates throughout the pandemic, on occasion risking their health.
‘HAL has repaid them by conducting the most brutal fire and rehire operation ever seen in the UK.
‘HAL would rather pay millions on arranging for contingencies during the strike than agree a fair deal for its loyal workforce.
‘HAL is using Covid as cover to force through long-held plans to cut workers’ pay. This is about greed not need. If this was related to the pandemic, HAL would be looking for temporary pay cuts.’