Over 3,000 security guards, engineers and firefighters at Heathrow airport are to be balloted over industrial action.

The Unite union said its members had rejected a 10 per cent pay increase, which the organisation said was “in effect a pay cut, with the real rate of inflation (RPI) currently standing at 13.4 per cent”.

The ballot will open on February 17 and close one month later, raising the possibility of strike action over the busy Easter period.

Unite said that its workers are reporting being “unable to make ends meet”, due to “a combination of low pay and the cost of living”, adding that Heathrow Airport Limited had “fired and rehired its entire workforce” on new pay and conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving employees “even more exposed to the impacts of the current cost of living crisis”.

Earlier this month it was announced that Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye would be stepping down in 2023, after nine years at the helm of the London hub.

“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,” said Unite general secretary Sharon Graham.

“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.”

Last week the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) announced plans for a one-day strike involving 100,000 members on March 15, to coincide with Budget Day.

Border Force staff at UK airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester will be among the members involved in the walkout, following similar action over the Christmas holiday period.

UK Border Force to strike on March 15