Unite members employed at Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) will be on picket lines tomorrow (December 1) in the dispute over the savage wage cuts imposed on the workforce through a brutal fire and rehire programme.
Alongside the picket lines an ad van will be touring Heathrow and the surrounding areas with the messages, including “Heathrow’s super-rich shareholders are jetting off with workers’ wages” and “Stop Heathrow’s billionaire-backed wage cuts”.
The ad van will be unveiled for a photo opportunity at 11am outside of Unite’s Heathrow office. Local MPs and striking Heathrow workers will be in attendance.
Unite will be maintaining three strictly socially distanced picket lines during the dispute at Hatton Cross tube station TW6 3PF, on Bath Road by the A4 roundabout TW6 2AA and also on Bath Road near the ambulance/fire house TW6 2AA.
Unite recorded an 84 per cent yes vote among its members at HAL, in opposition to the fire and rehire policies that will result in workers suffering permanent pay cuts of up to £8,000 per annum, which is 25 per cent of their take home pay.
As a result, Unite has called targeted strike action of workers who are critical to the operation of the airport involving: firefighters, engineers, campus security, baggage operations, central terminal operations, landside and airside operations.
Unite has warned that despite the union representing thousands of workers who will still be at work, HAL has refused to discuss its contingency plans for keeping the airport open and as a result the union has raised serious safety concerns.
The strike action on Tuesday, December 1 is highly symbolic as it is the day when the workers’ ‘poverty’ contracts begin to take effect.
Unite regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King said, “Workers face losing their homes and surrendering their cars due to the savage cuts being imposed on them.
“These cuts are all about greed and not need,” he added.
“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.
“HAL has claimed that under its ‘contingency plans’ Heathrow can operate safely but despite seeking the evidence to prove this, that information has not been forthcoming, raising serious questions about how the airport will operate during the strikes,” King continued.
“The dispute will undoubtedly cause widespread disruption but it was taken as an absolutely last resort by members who simply can’t afford the cuts HAL is imposing on them.”
Following the initial day of strike action there will be further strikes on Monday, December 14 and then a two-day stoppage on Thursday, December 17 and Friday, December 18.
By Barckley Sumner