Socialist Worker

Airport strike fights ‘fire and rehire’ plan

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2733

Workers at Heathrow are planning a 24-hour walkout next Monday

Workers at Heathrow plan a further 24-hour walkout on Monday 14 December (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Workers at London Heathrow Airport struck on Tuesday against bosses’ plans to blackmail them into accepting pay cuts.

The action by Unite union members came on the same day that Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) bosses began forcing around 4,000 ­workers onto far worse contracts.

The alternative was to have no job. 

Workers planned a ­further 24-hour walkout on Monday 14 December and a ­two-day strike from Thursday 17 December.

Heathrow Airport wants workers to accept permanent pay cuts of up to £8,000 a year—around a quarter of their total pay. 

Reports round-up—Two strikes at Heathrow and Rail Gourmet walkout
Reports round-up—Two strikes at Heathrow and Rail Gourmet walkout
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Those affected include firefighters, engineers, security, baggage operations,  central terminal operations, landside and airside workers.

This is despite bosses boasting they had cash reserves to get through 15 months even if a single plane did not land at the airport. 

On the eve of the walkout Unite raised “very serious concerns about the safe operation” at the airport during the industrial action. 

Compromised 

Wayne King, Unite’s regional coordinating officer, said, “Unite has severe concerns that Heathrow airport will not be able to operate safely during the forthcoming strikes.

“However, every time we have sought further information we have been rebuffed.” 

The union has written to the Civil Aviation Authority, the Health and Safety Executive and the Transport Select Committee about its concerns. 

King said the union wants them to “ensure that safety levels have not been compromised”. 

“There are thousands of passengers and workers who will be using the airport during the strike,” he said.

“They require guarantees that the airport will operate in a safe manner.

“By its own admission HAL’s contingency plans mean the company will need Unite workers to immediately return to work if a major incident should occur.”

Trade unionists should raise solidarity for the Heathrow workers’ fight.


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