*****UPDATE: The strike action scheduled for July 26 and 27 has now been suspended. In a statement the Unite union said:
“The strikes by more than 4,000 workers at Heathrow due to take place on Friday 26 July and Saturday 27 July have been suspended while the workforce votes on a new pay offer, Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Wednesday 24 July).
“Unite said it would not be revealing the details of the offer until its members involved in the ongoing pay dispute have had an opportunity to consider and vote on the new package.
“However, Unite said that the strikes already announced for Monday 5 August and Tuesday 6 August, and Friday 23 August and Saturday 24 August remained on the table until the result of the ballot was known.
“Unite won’t be commenting further until the ballot result is declared.”*****
Over 90 fire and rescue workers at Heathrow airport are set to join growing strike action at the airport next month, in a dispute over pay.
The Unite Union confirmed that the group of workers voted in favour of industrial action by 97.6 per cent on a turnout of 90.2 per cent.
As a result the workers are set to join two periods of strike action already announced by the union for August 5-6 and August 23-24, with over 4,000 security guards, engineers, passenger service operatives and passenger service drivers taking part.
A first period of strike action is set to take place this week (Friday July 26 – Saturday July 27) without the fire and rescue workers.
Unite said that the industrial action would take place this week “unless a breakthrough in talks between Unite and Heathrow Airport at the conciliation service Acas can be found”.
The union said that the planned strikes “follow the rejection of an 18 month pay offer amounting to 2.7 per cent, which according to Unite amounts to just £3.75 extra a day for the lowest paid workers involved in the dispute”.
Commenting on the news Unite regional officer Russ Bull said:
“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.
“They need to seize the window of opportunity that talks at the conciliation service Acas offer and work with Unite to resolve this pay dispute. The disruption of strike action can be avoided, but only if Heathrow Airport bosses start listening to staff across the airport.
“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.
“Our members do not take strike action lightly, but they have grown increasingly frustrated. This is a dispute which could have been sorted months ago. It is time Heathrow Airport started talking seriously about a fair pay rise which recognises the vital role they play in keeping passengers on the move.”
Heathrow has published a FAQ page about the forthcoming strikes here, stating that “This strike action has been unreasonably designed to impact hard-working passengers taking well-deserved holidays and we are implementing contingency plans that will ensure the airport remains open and operating safely in the event of any strike”.
Meanwhile Unite said that a proposed strike of Easyjet check-in staff at Stansted airport this week has been suspended while workers vote on an improved pay offer.
The British Airways Pilots Association is also planning to stage strike action this summer, although the union has held off from announcing strike dates while BA appeals against the dismissal of an injunction against potential industrial action by the High Court.