Fifteen hundred construction workers employed by civil engineers Laing O’Rourke on the Heathrow Terminal 5 site, yesterday launched the first of two 24-hour strikes over broken bonus promises.
Pickets were out around Heathrow airport from 5.30am to 10am and 2pm to 4.30pm. The next strike is on Monday, 19th December.
The three unions involved, TGWU, GMB and UCATT, said in their strike leaflet: ‘We are at the end of a long three year wait for our guaranteed hourly bonus payment to be uplifted from £2.10.
‘Three years ago, the employer said to us that it would be highly likely that we would be earning up to an envisaged £4.00 an hour bonus by the next year.
‘Three years later, we are still waiting for it, having earned it.
‘Three years later we are still on £2.08 and still having problems with local productivity bonus, rewarding some workers most of the time, and others never.
‘Some people have never earned top up.’
The leaflet points out that laing o’Rourke ‘is on a cost plus £20 per head contract’ and ‘has become very rich in the process’.
Yesterday UCATT member Dave Bennett told News Line at the early morning picket outside Plot 9 Caravan Park, Old Bath Road: ‘We are all working on the same project. All we are asking is to fall in line with the other tradesmen working at Terminal 5.
‘We’re after £1 an hour rise in bonus, plus the back pay.
‘We balloted for two days of strike action – today and Monday.
‘We were offered 22 pence an hour. We rejected that and balloted for strike action.’
GMB shop steward Martin Lee added: ‘Terminal 5 companies are paying electricians, plumbers, steel erectors an extra £1 on their bonus.
‘But Laing O’Rourke has offered us 22 pence which we feel is an insult to the members.’
At the Longford Roundabout picket, Andrew Baldwin, senior GMB shop steward, said: ‘We’ve never had an increase for three years.
‘Our members want parity across the board.
‘They are dedicated workers and want to be treated the same as everybody else.’
Malcolm Adams, UCATT senior shop steward told News Line at the Hatton Cross Tube picket line: ‘The steel erectors and electricians have already had their £1, we just want parity.
‘But there is no scope in our agreement for an improvement to our guaranteed bonus.’
GMB member Jason Meadows, a general operator, added: ‘I think it’s disgraceful.
‘Crown House is a Laing O’Rourke company and their workers have been given the pound, so have four other firms.
‘We were promised the bonus would rise over three years. But three years on and that hasn’t happened.
‘We have the support of the workforce at Amec, Watsons and other firms inside.’
GMB member Kevin Petre added: ‘You can’t give one without the other.
‘You all have to work together, and what’s good for one person is good for the other.
‘There are so many cultures and people working on Terminal 5, we all want and deserve the same as each other.’
Malcolm Davis added: ‘This is the first joint strike since the national building workers strike of 1973.’
TGWU member Jock Wares said: ‘They are paying the specialists the pound but they won’t pay us.
‘Yet this terminal wouldn’t be built without us.
‘The strike is costing us £400-£500 in lost wages but we feel we had to take action to keep parity with the rest of the companies.’