Heathrow security staff escalate strike action amid ongoing pay dispute

Heathrow Airport is bracing for a series of strikes by security staff, with walkouts scheduled nearly every weekend from mid-June until the end of August. The industrial action is a result of an ongoing pay dispute involving more than 2,000 members of the Unite union, which led to strikes last month and over the Easter period. This time, officers from Heathrow Terminal 3 will join the action, marking their first involvement in the dispute.

The workers are set to strike on the following dates:
• June 24, 25, 28, 29, and 30
• July 14-16, 21-24, and 28-31
• August 4-7, 11-14, 18-20, and 24-27

These strikes will coincide with the start of school holidays and the August bank holiday. However, Heathrow Airport has reassured passengers that previous strikes by campus security and staff in Terminal 5 did not cause significant disruption. A spokesperson for the airport stated, “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 airport is committed to minimising the impact of the strikes on passengers, ensuring they can enjoy their summer holidays. During previous industrial action involving around 1,400 security staff, passengers were limited to bringing only two carry-on items through security.

The union has warned that the dispute may escalate further in the coming weeks. Unite claims that Heathrow security officers are paid less than their counterparts at other major airports in London and the South East. According to the union, these officers were the highest paid before the COVID-19 pandemic but now receive between £5,000 and £6,000 less per year than security staff at Stansted and Gatwick airports.

Heathrow Airport has refuted these claims, arguing that Unite is not making like-for-like comparisons with airports that require anti-social working hours and seven-day workweeks. The airport also highlighted that it did not make any frontline redundancies during the pandemic and only a small number of contracts were “aligned with current market rates.”

Unite’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, criticised Heathrow’s priorities, stating, “This is an incredibly wealthy company, which this summer is anticipating bumper profits and an executive pay bonanza. It’s also expected to pay out huge dividends to shareholders, yet its workers can barely make ends meet and are paid far less than workers at other airports.”

World News

Jamie Cartwright

Jamie is a keen traveler, writer, and (English) teacher. A few years after finishing school in the East Mids, UK, he went traveling around South America and Asia. Several teaching and writing jobs, he found himself at The Thaiger where he mostly covers international news and events.

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