Heathrow Workers strike against decision to cut wages by up to 25%

Updated: Mar 20

On Friday 5 February, workers at Heathrow Airport Limited went out on strike to protest the decision by their employer to significantly reduce their pay and conditions.

The strike forms part of a month-long campaign of disruption at the airport. Through Unite the Union, workers have already announced their plans to strike on the 13, 16 and 18 of this month with further dates announced in the near future.

The industrial action has been brought about following Heathrow Airport Limited's decision to ‘fire and rehire’ its entire workforce, permanently slashing wages by up to 25% (£8,000 per annum).

Whilst all workers employed by Heathrow Airport Limited have been affected by the ‘fire and rehire’ decision, not all workers will be striking at once. Instead, through a flexible approach to industrial action, different groups of workers are going on strike at different times.

The targeted industrial action will involve: campus security, firefighters, baggage operations, central terminal operations, engineers, landside and airside operations.

Currently, Heathrow Airport Limited are not negotiating with Unite. Instead, they are using sub-contractors, agency workers and casual staff to provide a ‘contingency service’, when workers are on strike.

In a statement a Heathrow Airport Limited spokesperson said the cuts to pay and conditions are"to protect jobs in the worst crisis to hit the aviation sector". They said it meant they had "avoided huge swathes of compulsory redundancies, despite losses of over £1.5 billion already".

Unite regional coordinating officer Wayne King commented:

With workers being forced to downsize and give up their cars it is not surprising that they are determined to step up industrial action.

Heathrow Airport Limited’s motives from the outset have been all about greed and not about need. If this was linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on aviation, then cuts to pay would be temporary and not permanent.

Heathrow Airport Limited workers also went on strike for four days during December as part of the dispute.