Security guards at London’s Heathrow airport to step up pay strikes during busy summer months

LONDON (AP) — Security guards at London’s Heathrow airport, Europe’s busiest, will step up their strike action during the busy summer months, the UK’s largest union said on Wednesday. United.

The Unite union has said more than 2,000 of its members will be out for 31 days from June 24 to August 27, a move that could wreak havoc on the millions of people who pass through Heathrow during the summer travel season. Security guards have already gone on strike in recent months, especially during the Easter holidays and the coronation of King Charles III.

“Unite is warning Heathrow that the strike at the airport will continue until it makes a fair wage offer to its workers,” said Unite general secretary Sharon Graham. “Make no mistake, our members will have the union’s unwavering support in this litigation.”

Security guards at Terminal 3, which is the base of many international carriers including American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, will join their colleagues at Terminal 5, which is British Airways’ main hub.

Last December, military personnel were drafted in to check passports at UK airports, including Heathrow, during Border Force strikes.

Unite said security guards rejected a 10.1 per cent pay offer from Heathrow, which is below the level at which consumer price inflation has been running since the start of the large-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February 2022. Unite also said its internal research shows the average salary of workers at Heathrow has fallen by 24% in real terms since 2017.

Unite also said there was also “widespread bitterness” among workers that Heathrow used “pandemic coverage” to enforce a “fire and rehire” strategy.

“This is an incredibly wealthy company, predicting windfall profits and a windfall for executive salaries this summer,” Graham said. “It is also expected to pay huge dividends to shareholders, but its employees are barely making ends meet and are paid far less than employees at other airports.”

A Heathrow spokesperson was not immediately available to comment.

With inflation reaching multi-decade highs, the UK has been rocked by multiple strikes across all sectors in recent months, from nurses to lawyers and train drivers.

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