Heathrow Airport workers launching a wave of strike from Friday

Published on : Friday, February 5, 2021

Heathrow workers are to launch a wave of February strike action on Friday as part of a row over wages. The airport says it will keep operating despite the walkout by workers, including baggage handlers and firefighters.

Heathrow said in September it would cut pay by 15% to 20% for about half of the 4,700 staff in engineering, airside operations and security. But the Unite union says that most of those staff will be worse off.

A spokesman for the union said that some members were losing a quarter of their pay, with cuts of as much as £8,000.

Some workers are having to get rid of property and downsize, some are giving up their cars, and one couple has even had to stop IVF treatment because they were no longer able to afford it, the spokesman said. The workers will strike on Friday 5 February, as well as on 9, 13, 16 and 18 February.

The union accused Heathrow of firing and rehiring “its entire workforce on vastly inferior wages and conditions”. While passenger numbers have slumped during the pandemic, the airport is still handling large volumes of freight, the Unite spokesman said.

The airport is plugging the gaps in its workforce with sub-contractors, agency workers and casual staff, but the union questioned the safety of those measures.

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