Heathrow Airport is facing severe disruption this Easter as workers at the airport prepare to ballot for strike action over pay.

Heathrow workforce

Over 3,000 workers, who are members of Unite, the UK’s leading union and employed by Heathrow Airports Ltd (HAL) as security guards, engineers and firefighters will begin balloting for strike action on Friday 17 February with the ballot closing on Friday 17 March. If the workers vote for industrial action strikes could coincide with the Easter getaway.

The workers have rejected a 10 per cent pay increase, which is in effect a pay cut, with the real rate of inflation (RPI) currently standing at 13.4 per cent.

Gross hypocrisy

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Heathrow Airport is guilty of gross hypocrisy, it is paying telephone number salaries to its chief executive and senior managers, but the workers who make the company a success are on poverty wages.

 “Unite never takes a backward step when fighting for its members’, jobs, pay and conditions and our members at Heathrow Airport will receive the union’s complete support.”

Low pay

The workers are reporting that due to a combination of low pay and the cost of living crisis they are unable to make ends meet. A security guard at the airport is paid as little as £24,000 a year.

The brutal attacks on pay and conditions in 2020 have left its employees even more exposed to the impacts of the current cost of living crisis. During the pandemic HAL fired and rehired its entire workforce.

HAL’s treatment of its workers was in marked contrast to the treatment of senior management who suffered a temporary pay cut during the pandemic, which has now been restored. HAL’s chief executive John Holland Kaye saw his salary increase from £700,000 to £1.5 million in 2021.

Easter chaos

Unite regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King said: “If our members at HAL take strike action it will inevitably cause severe disruption throughout Heathrow with delays, disruption and cancellations of flights inevitable.

“This dispute is of HAL’s own making. Its employees, are struggling to make ends meet, HAL has the opportunity to ease their financial burden but is refusing to step up and do the right thing. This isn’t about what our members want, this is about what they need for them and their families. This is about need not greed.”


Notes to editors

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.