Heathrow workers announce December strikes over airport’s plans to sack and rehire 4,000 staff


Heathrow Airport workers are to go on strike next month over a dispute about plans to ‘fire and rehire’ 4,000 employees on reduced pay packets.

Members of Unite, the UK’s main aviation union, voted 85 per cent in favour of industrial action that will involve firefighters, engineers, campus security, baggage operations, operational and airside workers.

The first 24-hour strike will take place on Tuesday 1 December, with a further one day stoppage on Monday 14 December.

A 48-hour strike will take place on Thursday 17 and Friday 18 December.

A spokesperson for the airport told MailOnline the strike action was ‘disappointing’, adding plans are in place to avoid having to close the terminals. 

Members of Unite, the UK’s main aviation union, voted 85 per cent in favour of industrial action against Heathrow over a dispute about plans to ‘fire and rehire’ 4,000 employees on reduced pay packets

Just 1.25 million people travelled through the west London airport last month, compared with 7.06 million during October 2019. 

In September, it was reported Heathrow bosses were looking at cutting 1,200 jobs, around a quarter of its frontline roles, because of the downturn and triggered a 45-day consultation period about the proposed cuts.

But union bosses slammed the move, saying Heathrow has cash reserves to survive for 15 months even if a single plane does not land at the airport.  

In an open letter, Unite said workers were being called to one-to-one meetings over the fire and hire proposals and given 24 hours to make a decision on whether to accept a new contract.

Unite regional coordinating officer Wayne King said: 'Workers are taking strike action as a direct result of Heathrow Airport's brutal proposals to fire and rehire them on greatly reduced wages'

Unite regional coordinating officer Wayne King said: ‘Workers are taking strike action as a direct result of Heathrow Airport’s brutal proposals to fire and rehire them on greatly reduced wages’

It continues: ‘The way in which workers are being treated is likely to greatly worsen the epidemic of mental and physical ill health which is detrimentally affecting workers at the airport.’  

Unite regional coordinating officer Wayne King said: ‘Workers are taking strike action as a direct result of Heathrow Airport’s brutal proposals to fire and rehire them on greatly reduced wages.

‘The airport is using the Covid-19 pandemic as a smokescreen to permanently cut workers’ pay.

‘Unite has put forward several alternative suggestions to reduce staffing costs on a temporary basis, all of which have been summarily rejected by management.

Just 1.25 million people travelled through the west London airport last month, compared with 7.06 million during October 2019

Just 1.25 million people travelled through the west London airport last month, compared with 7.06 million during October 2019

‘The way that workers, who are already suffering extreme levels of stress and anxiety, are being treated by HAL’s management, demonstrates that they have apparently learned all their skills of tact and diplomacy from Donald Trump.

‘These decisions will turn Heathrow from one of the most successful airports in the world into a workplace run on bullying and intimidation, it’s disgraceful. In the midst of a global pandemic no key worker should be forced to take such deep pay cuts by an employer that claims to have billions in reserves.

‘The government should start to take a serious look at how our country’s largest airport is being run and financed.

‘Management are using the vilest form of bullyboy tactics of fear and intimidation and are trying to force workers virtually overnight to accept new contracts which force them and their families into poverty.

Some 1.25 million people travelled through the west London airport last month, compared with 7.06 million during October 2019

Some 1.25 million people travelled through the west London airport last month, compared with 7.06 million during October 2019

‘The long-term damage to morale at the airport is indescribable, and we have to question if productivity levels will ever recover.

‘This strike action will undoubtedly cause a great deal of disruption to passengers and cargo deliveries using the airport but this is purely a result of the company’s appalling treatment of workers.

‘Unite is fully prepared to take part in talks to resolve this dispute anytime, anyplace and anywhere.’ 

A Heathrow spokesperson said: ‘It’s very disappointing that some of our union partners have decided to take strike action during the worst crisis to hit the aviation sector.

‘We will now activate extensive contingency plans which will keep the airport open and operating safely throughout this period.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk