The UK’s busiest airport could be “shut down” this summer as more than 4,000 workers will walk out in a series of strikes over a pay dispute, union Unite has said. Staff will walk out on July 26, July 27, August 5, August 6, August 23 and August 24. Security guards, engineers, passenger service operatives and passenger service drivers, are all set to take industrial action.
The planned strike action follows on from a rejection of an 18 month pay offer amounting to a 2.7 per cent rise.
Unite regional coordinating officer Wayne King says there is a “deepening anger over pay among workers” who are “fed up of being expected to accept crumbs”.
Mr King warned if negotiations failed it would cause “significant disruption” and even the “potential closure of the airport over the summer months”.
Mr King also hit out at the salary of Heathrow Airport’s chief executive officer, John Holland-Kaye, who received a 103.2 percent pay increase with his basic remuneration package rising from £2.097 million in 2017 to £4.2 million in 2018.
The Unite chief also slammed the pay disparity between workers and stated bosses “need to get their heads out of the sand”.
Mr King added: “To add insult to injury there are widening pay disparities leading to airport security guards employed after 2014 earning up to £6,000 less than colleagues hired before that date.
“Unite members ensured over 80 million passengers passed safely through Heathrow in the last 12 months and contributed massively to the airport’s huge profits last year.
“Unite and our members support Heathrow expansion and are working hard to deliver it, but we will not allow Heathrow bosses to get away with low pay.”
He added: “Bosses at Heathrow Airport need to get their heads out of the sand and start negotiating meaningfully over pay.
“Otherwise there will be significant disruption to flights to and from Heathrow and the potential closure of the airport over the summer months because of industrial action.”
Heathrow has stated it is working to “minimise disruption” and has defended its offer made to staff.
The airport says it progressive pay package giving at least a 4.6 percent pay rise to over 70 percent of frontline staff.
It has also encouraged union members to get back to the negotiation table.
A spokesman for Heathrow Airport said: “We will be working alongside our airline partners to minimise disruption caused to passengers as they look towards their well-deserved summer holidays.
“We are proud of our record as a good employer and we remain committed to finding a solution.
“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 and is specifically designed to boost the wages of lower paid colleagues.
“We have invited our union colleagues back to the table and urge them to continue working with us to reach an agreement.”