The pay dispute at Heathrow airport is set to escalate as around 600 more security officers have voted to join the dispute.


Large yes vote


Members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, employed as security officers by Heathrow Airport Ltd (HAL) at Terminal 3, have recorded an 85 per cent yes vote for strike action.


The decision of the security officers at Terminal 3 to take strike action is a significant development. They join their 1,400 colleagues employed as security officers at Terminal 5 and Campus Security, who are currently taking industrial action.


The security officers at Terminal 5 and Campus Security are currently in their second day of their latest round of industrial action, with the final day of their current industrial action taking place tomorrow (Saturday 27 May).


Escalating strike action


Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Escalating strike action will inevitably cause disruption, delays and cancellations across Heathrow. This widening dispute is a direct result of Heathrow airport’s dismissive attitude to its workers. They have seriously misjudged the anger of the workers. They have had every opportunity to make our members a fair pay offer but have chosen not to. It is now time for them to come back to the negotiating table and deal with this issue before further escalation occurs


“Strike action is now set to escalate throughout the summer and Unite will leave no stone unturned in support for our members involved in the dispute.”


Real terms pay cuts


Unite’s research has revealed that since 2017, in real terms, the average remuneration of HAL workers has fallen by 24 per cent. The company fired and rehired its entire workforce at the height of Covid in 2020, which dramatically cut the pay of many of its workforce.


Unite has discovered that 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.


Bumper CEO package


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.


Urgent reality check needed


Unite regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King said: “Heathrow airport needs an urgent reality check; it bills itself as the UK’s premier airport but its pay rates are pitiful. This is totally unacceptable and it is little surprise that our members are voting to join industrial action to secure a fair pay rate.


“This company is paying over a billion pounds in dividends to shareholders in the next few years, rather than support the workers who make the airport a success. Our members are tired of being treated like second-class citizens – they have had enough."




Notes to editors: 


Unite will announce further strike dates in the coming days.


Heathrow expected to pay bumper dividends, while staff face poverty pay


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


Email: [email protected]


Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Instagram: unitetheunion Web:


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.