Heathrow strike threat to summer holiday travel

Plane flying over Heathrow signImage copyright Reuters

Holidaymakers jetting off on summer breaks could be hit by strike action planned at London’s Heathrow airport.

More than 4,000 workers at the airport – including customer service, engineering and security staff – have voted to strike over pay.

Staff will walk out on 26 July, 27 July, 5 August, 6 August, 23 August and 24 August, which the Unite union said could create “summer travel chaos”.

Heathrow says it has contingency plans to remain open and operate safely.

Unite said members had voted in eight ballots to support action after an 18-month pay rise offer averaging 2.7% was rejected.

Wayne King, the union’s Unite regional co-ordinating officer, said: “There is deepening anger over pay among workers who are essential to the smooth running of Heathrow Airport”.

Unite said the dispute was also in part because of different pay rates for the same job, as well as discontent with the pay package of airport boss John Holland-Kaye.

According to the company’s annual report, last year the Heathrow boss banked a 103.2% pay increase, from £2.1m in 2017 to £4.2m in 2018, thanks largely to a long-term bonus scheme.

The union said the airport’s current pay offer amounted to £3.75 a day extra for its lowest-paid workers.

Heathrow urged the union to return to the bargaining table to resolve the pay dispute.

“We have proposed a progressive pay package giving at least a 4.6% pay rise to over 70% of our frontline colleagues. The total package offered is above RPI [Retail Prices Index] and is specifically designed to boost the wages of lower paid colleagues”.

As the dispute rumbles on, the airport said its contingency plans would ensure flights could still take off and land during one of the busiest period of the year.

“We will be working alongside our airline partners to minimise disruption caused to passengers as they look towards their well-deserved summer holidays,” it said.

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