Unite calls off July strikes at Heathrow Airport

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Passport control at London's Heathrow Airport, where strikes have been called off for July. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

Trade union Unite said on Wednesday that it had called off strikes at Heathrow Airport planned for 26 and 27 July while workers vote on a new pay offer.

Planned strikes for four days next month — 5, 6, 23 and 24 August — remain on the table, Unite said, until the result of the ballot is declared.

More than 4,000 staff members at Heathrow, which is by far the UK’s busiest airport, were due to strike on Friday and Saturday as part of a dispute about pay conditions.

Unite had warned that the walkout of the workers, which would have included security, engineering and customer service staff, “could potentially shut down the airport.”

The union, which is the largest in the UK and Ireland, said that it would not be revealing details of the new pay offer until members “had an opportunity to consider and vote on the new package.”

The dispute centres on what the union describes as “widening pay disparities” among staff at the airport.

“There is deepening anger over pay among workers who are essential to the smooth running of Heathrow Airport,” Unite regional coordinating officer Wayne King said earlier in July.

“They are fed up of being expected to accept crumbs while the chief executive pockets an eye popping 103 per cent rise in his pay package and shareholders are handed dividends of over £2 billion in the last two years alone.”

Earlier this week, almost 98% of fire and rescue workers at Heathrow voted in favour of joining the industrial action, on a turnout of over 90%.

Regional officer Russ Bull said that Heathrow bosses need to heed the massive vote in favour of strike action.

“Our members do not take strike action lightly, but they have grown increasingly frustrated. This is a dispute which could have been sorted months ago,” he said.

A spokesperson for Heathrow had said the airport was “disappointed” that the strike action would be taking place, but said that it would be “implementing contingency plans that will ensure the airport remains open and operating safely throughout any coordinated action.”