Heathrow Airport Faces pre-Christmas Strike Threat over Fire and Rehire’ Plans.
Heathrow faces the threat of pre-Christmas strike action in a row over controversial ‘fire and rehire’ plans affecting 4,000 workers, union leaders say. The Unite union plans a series of walkouts from December 2 after members voted 85% in favour of industrial action.
A further one-day stoppage is due on December 14 followed by a 48-hour strike on December 17 and 18. Unite regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King claimed: “The airport is using the Covid-19 pandemic as a smokescreen to permanently cut workers’ pay.”
He added: “Workers are taking strike action as a direct result of Heathrow airport’s brutal proposals to fire and rehire them on greatly reduced wages. “Unite has put forward several alternative suggestions to reduce staffing costs on a temporary basis, all of which have been summarily rejected by management.”
A Heathrow spokesperson said: “It’s very disappointing that Unite has decided to take strike action during the worst crisis to hit the aviation sector. We will now activate extensive contingency plans which will keep the airport open and operating safely throughout this period.”
Passenger numbers in October were down 82%, with November set to be even lower due to the current travel restrictions. Cargo flights are also less than half of normal levels.
However, Unite said the pay cuts, of up to £8,000, were unnecessary given the airport had large cash reserves and it accused Heathrow of rushing staff into accepting worse contracts or resigning. The strike action will include firefighters, engineers, operations, security and baggage staff.
Unite’s regional coordinating officer Wayne King said: “The airport is using the Covid-19 pandemic as a smokescreen to permanently cut workers’ pay.
“These decisions will turn Heathrow from one of the most successful airports in the world into a workplace run on bullying and intimidation, it’s disgraceful. In the midst of a global pandemic, no key worker should be forced to take such deep pay cuts by an employer that claims to have billions in reserves.”
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