Socialist Worker

Heathrow prepares mass ‘fire and rehire’ to force through pay cuts

by Isabel Ringrose
Issue No. 2721

Dnata inflight catering workers protested this week. They face poverty contracts

Dnata inflight catering workers protested this week. They face poverty contracts (Pic: Unite union)


Heathrow Airport Holdings (HAL) has told workers they must take pay cuts of up to 20 percent or face mass job losses.

The airport management has issued formal section 188 notices. This means it will be able to fire and rehire around 4,700 employees.

A section 188 notice also allows Heathrow to bypass negotiations after a 45-day period, and then re-employ workers on new contracts with worse terms.

The consequence will be pay cuts of up to £10,000 if staff choose to stay on, and unemployment if they do not.

The decision comes after months of talks over the company's proposals to cut pay by up to 24 percent, slash allowances, impose interior conditions and close the company pension scheme.

Heathrow insists it does not want to cut jobs. Yet airport bosses have already imposed 20 percent pay cuts on office staff.

Chief executive John Holland-Kaye had previously suggested that up to 25,000 employees could lose their jobs.

Holland-Kaye grabbed £4.2 million in 2018, a pay rise of 103.2 percent from the previous year.

Audacity

Holland-Kaye had the audacity to say, “The reality is that hard-working people face losing their livelihoods, their sense of self-worth, perhaps even their homes, families and mental health.”

Multi-millionaire bosses like Holland-Kaye have no idea how hard it is for their workers to survive on furlough or on pay cuts.

He will not be losing his home or see threats to his health. So why should ordinary workers?

Job losses and pay cuts are not inevitable.

At the beginning of the pandemic the airport announced it had a war chest of £3.2 billion and could survive without a flight leaving for a year. HAL also paid a £100 million dividend to shareholders, which include the Qatari royal family.

Resistance to ‘fire and rehire’ threat at BA and British Gas
Resistance to ‘fire and rehire’ threat at BA and British Gas
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Workers must not pay the price for the crisis, while bosses and banks are receiving billions in government handouts.

Unite said it was “deeply concerned” and is pushing the airport to continue talks.

In July it said it was committed to “discussing fair cost reductions”.  This has merely encouraged further attacks.

Unite the union is currently formally putting the proposals to the workforce in a consultative ballot. It is imperative the union leaders encourage and back a real fight.

Bosses across aviation—and in many other areas—are using the crisis to slash pay and conditions. There must be no surrender to their blackmail.

  • Inflight catering workers at Dnata are also facing “fire and rehire”. Bosses plan to destroy their present pay and conditions and to enforce contracts of just 20 hours a week, plunging them into poverty.

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