Fire and rescue staff join others in strikes at Heathrow Airport

Trade union Unite has announced that over 90 firefighters and fire and rescue staff will join other workers at Heathrow Airport in strike action over a pay dispute.

Fire and rescue workers backed the industrial action by 97.6 per cent in a vote with a 90.2 per cent turnout, and will now join 4,000 other members of airport staff on the second and third sets of strikes planned for Monday 5 August and Tuesday 6 August, and Friday 23 August and Saturday 24 August.

“Bosses at Heathrow Airport need to heed this massive vote in favour of strike action by a group of workers who are essential to the airport’s safety,” said Unite regional officer Russ Bull.

“The disruption of strike action can be avoided, but only if Heathrow Airport bosses start listening to staff across the airport.”

An 18 month pay offer amounting to a 2.7% rise in wages was rejected by staff, with the lowest paid workers set to gain just £3.75 a day under those terms.

A key contributing factor to workers’ anger was a growing sense of injustice over the widening pay gap between those at the very bottom of the ladder and those at the very top – airport CEO John Holland-Kaye received an extra £2 million in 2018 alone, for example.

“Workers who are essential to the smooth and safe running of Heathrow are sick and tired of bosses pleading poverty and being told to accept a pittance of a pay rise, while shareholders receive billions in dividends and the chief executive pockets a pay rise of 103.2 per cent.”

Unless talks between the airport and Unite at the conciliation service Acas reach a breakthorough soon, strikes will also go ahead on Friday 26 July and Saturday 27 July, involving security guards, engineers, passenger service operatives and passenger service drivers.

“We have proposed a progressive pay package giving at least a 4.6 percent pay rise to over 70 percent of our frontline colleagues,” said a Heathrow spokesperson.

“The total package offered is above RPI and is specifically designed to boost the wages of lower paid colleagues.”