Unite the union has announced a major escalation of its dispute with Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) over low pay.


31 days of strikes


The union has announced 31 days of strike action beginning on Saturday 24 June (see notes to editors for full list below). The strikes will involve over 2,000 security officers. 


For the first time security officers based at Terminal Three, who voted for strike action last week, will join their colleagues from Terminal Five and campus security on the picket line. Campus security are responsible for checking all personnel and vehicles going airside.


Terminal Three strikes


The walkout by workers at Terminal Three will result in a large number of airlines facing the prospect of disruption, delays and cancellations this summer. These include: Virgin, Emirates, Qatar, United, American and Delta. The extensive walkouts at Terminal Five will heavily affect British Airway’s summer schedule.


Airport on notice


Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite is putting Heathrow on notice that strike action at the airport will continue until it makes a fair pay offer to its workers. Make no mistake, our members will receive the union’s unflinching support in this dispute. 


“HAL has got its priorities all wrong. This is an incredibly wealthy company, which this summer is anticipating bumper profits and an executive pay bonanza. It’s also expected to pay out huge dividends to shareholders, yet its workers can barely make ends meet and are paid far less than workers at other airports.”


Below inflation offer


The workers have rejected a below inflation pay offer of 10.1 per cent (the true rate of inflation, RPI, is currently 11.4 per cent). There is widespread bitterness among the workforce about how HAL used the cover of the pandemic to slash wages in real terms, using a ‘fire and rehire’ strategy. Unite’s research has revealed that since 2017, the average remuneration of HAL workers has fallen by 24 per cent in real terms.


Disruption inevitable


Unite regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King said: “Delays, disruption and cancellations will be inevitable as a result of the strike action. But this dispute is completely of HAL’s own making.


“The company has been given numerous opportunities to make an offer that meets our members’ expectations and so avoid another period of damaging strike action. Sadly, HAL has stubbornly refused to take this opportunity.”


The dispute could further escalate in the coming weeks.




Notes to editors: 


The workers will be on strike on 24, 25, 28, 29 and 30 June and 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29, 30 31 July and 4, 5, 6 , 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20, 24, 25, 26, and 27 August.


These dates include Eid festival (28, 29 and 30 June), the beginning of the school holidays (21, 22, 23 and 24 July) and the August bank holiday (24, 25, 26 and 27 August).


Heathrow security officers are paid less than workers at other major airports in London and the South East. The officers, who were the highest paid prior to the Covid pandemic, are now paid between £5,000 and £6,000 per annum less than their counterparts at Stansted and Gatwick.


The declining pay for Heathrow employees and the abject low pay for its security officers is in stark contrast to the remuneration of its chief executive John Holland-Kaye. Between 2020 and 2021, his pay soared from £800,000 to £1.5 million - up 88 per cent.


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


Email: [email protected]


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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.