In addition to three socially distanced picket lines during the strike, a van will be touring Heathrow and the surrounding area adorned with the messages: “Heathrow’s super-rich shareholders are jetting off with workers’ wages”, “Heathrow Grinch CEO is stealing workers’ wages”, and “Stop Heathrow’s billionaire-backed wage cuts”.
The dispute has arisen over Heathrow’s “fire and rehire” policies, according to Unite, which it claims will result in workers suffering permanent pay cuts of up to £8,000 per annum – 25 per cent of their take home pay.
In response, the union has called on its members who are employed by Heathrow as firefighters, engineers, campus security, baggage operations, central terminal operations, landside and airside operations, to join today’s industrial action.
A further strike is planned for 14 December, followed by a two-day stoppage on 17-18 December, set to be one of the busiest pre-Christmas travel dates.
“Workers face losing their homes and surrendering their cars due to the savage cuts being imposed on them,” said Unite regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King.
“These cuts are all about greed and not need.
“HAL and John Holland Kaye are guilty of using the Covid pandemic as cover for forcing through long held plans to cut pay. If this was genuinely about the pandemic any cuts would have been temporary.
“Unite have tried to negotiate temporary pay cuts but Heathrow were simply not interested.”
He added that the strike was “taken as an absolutely last resort” by Unite’s members.
Heathrow has stated the airport will remain open and operating as usual throughout the strikes.
A spokesperson for Heathrow said: “It’s very disappointing that Unite has decided to take strike action during the worst crisis to hit the aviation sector.
“Our focus has been to protect jobs – which is why we’ve offered every frontline colleague who wants one a job at a market rate salary above the London Living Wage, even despite a loss of over £1.5bn to our business so far this year.
“We do not believe this strike action is necessary, but we will now activate extensive contingency plans which will keep the airport open and operating safely throughout this period.”