Summer holidays under threat as Heathrow security staff expected to announce strike

There have already been a series of walkouts at Heathrow this year  (AP)
There have already been a series of walkouts at Heathrow this year (AP)

Summer holiday’s are once again under threat as a series of fresh strikes by security guards at Heathrow, UK’s busiest airport, is expected to be announced this week.

Members of the Unite union are embroiled in a long-running disagreement over pay, and this summer’s peak travelling period could see more than 2,000 workers strike.

The dispute has already resulted in industrial action. A three-day strike was held at the end of May, coinciding with what was supposed to be the busiest day for UK air travel since 2019, as well as a massive IT failure for British Airways.

It followed 15 days of strike over the Easter period earlier this year.

On Friday, Unite announced there would be 33 days of strikes throughout the summer, although their official announcement was later retracted.

Holidaymakers have “high expectations” that the “disastrous chaos” seen throughout the travel industry last year will not be repeated, according to Which?.

The consumer champion is now calling on the aviation industry to “work together” in order to minimise stress and disruptions.

Major staff shortages as international travel ramped up following years of Covid restrictions led to trouble at airports in summer 2022, and the threat of further industrial action is likely to lead to fears of a few bleak months for those looking to get away.

In a comment shared with The Independent, Rory Boland, the editor of Which? Travel, said: “People have paid a lot of money for flights and holidays this year, and will rightly have high expectations that they won’t be put through the same disastrous chaos we saw last year. Yet worryingly, so far it’s not been a good start to the peak travel season.

“It’s essential that airports and airlines work together to keep travellers updated, and are fulfilling their legal obligations to passengers in the event of flight delays or cancellations.

“Passengers should protect themselves by taking out travel insurance from the date they book their trip, and carefully check the policy as some won’t cover disruption in the event of airline or airport staff striking.”

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Passengers can rest assured that we will do everything we can to minimise strike disruption so they can enjoy their hard-earned summer holidays. Unite has already tried and failed to disrupt the airport with unnecessary strikes on some of our busiest days and we continue to build our plans to protect journeys during any future action.

“The simple fact remains that the majority of colleagues do not support Unite’s strikes. There is a two-year inflation-beating pay rise ready for colleagues, if only Unite would allow them to have a say. We will continue talks with Unite about resolving this issue.”

There could also be issues on the railways following a string of walkouts during the last week. Some train operators were brought to a halt during three days of strikes by members of the Aslef and RMT unions.

Although there are no more strike dates confirmed, the RMT said that there will be further action until they are presented with a “sensible, realistic offer”.