Easter holidaymakers facing disruption as Heathrow security guards strike goes ahead
Ten days of strikes by security guards at Heathrow Airport will go ahead from Friday after last-ditch talks failed to resolve a pay dispute, Unite has announced.
In a statement on Thursday evening, the union said talks broke down because Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) failed to substantially improve its pay offer.
The strike will involve around 1,400 Unite members working in Terminal Five.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Heathrow can afford to pay a decent pay rise to its workers.
“This is a wealthy company which is about to return to bumper profits. In recent years it’s approved an astronomical rise in salary for its chief executive and paid out dividends to shareholders worth billions.
“Yet somehow, Heathrow executives seem to think it’s acceptable to offer what amounts to a real-terms pay cut to its security guards and ground staff who are already on poverty pay.”
A Heathrow spokesperson said: “We will not let these unnecessary strikes impact the hard-earned holidays of our passengers. Our contingency plans will keep the airport operating as normal throughout.
“We are deploying 1,000 additional colleagues and the entire management team who will be in the terminals providing assistance to passengers over the busy Easter getaway.
“We know that the majority of colleagues do not support strike action.”
Heathrow accused Unite of “refusing” to take an improved offer to its members “despite the PCS union wanting to do so”.
“Colleagues could have an above inflation 10 per cent pay increase back-dated to 1st January and a lump sum payment of £1,150, but instead they’re left empty-handed by Unite’s actions. The only reason Unite refuse to take the improved offer to members is because they fear they’ll back it."
Unite regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King said: “Heathrow Airport has thrown away the opportunity to avoid strikes. Unite went into today’s meeting looking for an offer our members could accept. Unfortunately it seems HAL went in with no intention of avoiding industrial action.
“The strike action will undoubtedly result in severe delays and disruption to passengers across the airport but this dispute is a direct result of Heathrow Airport’s stubborn refusal to pay its workers fairly.”
Heathrow claims that security staff have been offered a 10 per cent pay rise in addition to “further enhancements”.
The strike involves security officers at Terminal Five, which is used exclusively by British Airways, and campus security guards who are responsible for checking all cargo that enters the airport. BA has stopped selling tickets for strike days.
It will coincide with separate industrial action by more than 1,000 officials at the Passport Office, with Britons warned of delays to passport renewals.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union working in Passport Offices across the UK will walk out for five weeks from April 3 in a dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.
Earlier this week, Heathrow announced contingency plans to keep the airport operating during the 10-day strike.
A spokesperson said that an additional 1,000 workers would be deployed to help mitigate the effects of the strike, claiming security would be “well-managed” despite the disruption.
British Airways previously said it expects to cancel up to 32 flights a day between March 31 and April 9 as a result of the action.
Strikes by ground handlers at Heathrow were called off in December after the airport made an improved pay offer. Some 400 Unite members working for aviation firm Menzies had been due to walk out for 72 hours.
Ahead of Friday’s strike, Heathrow urged passengers to check their flight status with their airline before travelling to the airport.
Travellers are also urged to arrive at the airport no earlier than two hours before short haul flights and 3 hors before long haul flights.