Heathrow faces Christmas travel distruption with workers threatening to strike in a row over pay and conditions.

The Unite union warned that a walk out by security staff, firefighters, airfield operators and engineers will cause travel chaos for passengers over the busy Christmas period.

About 4,000 members of the union working at the London hub have overwhelmingly rejected the company’s holiday pay offer and imposed cuts to terms and conditions in a consultative ballot.

The industrial action ballot of Unite members, who voted by a 94% majority to reject the company’s offer in the ballot, opens on September 27 and closes around October 18.

Heathrow was told yesterday of the union’s intention to proceed to a full industrial action ballot of the entire membership, unless the company revises holiday pay plans, cuts to early start payments and a threat to remove members from the airport’s ‘Share in Success’ scheme for taking part in lawful industrial action.

Unite regional co-ordinating officer, Wayne King said: “Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) needs to sit up and take notice. Instead of ‘making every journey better’, Heathrow is ‘making every worker poorer’ in its bullying bid to cheat staff out of their full holiday pay, and cuts to long standing terms and conditions.

“We are deeply disappointed that, despite many months of trying to settle this dispute, including at the conciliation service, Acas, HAL has flatly rejected several of the union’s reasonable proposals. This has left us with no option, but to proceed to a full industrial action ballot now.

“With over 94% voting to reject, our members have sent a very clear message that they will not be bullied into accepting a shoddy offer that leaves them out of pocket.

“They work in safety critical roles, without them, air and groundside operations will grind to a halt.

“We would urge HAL to get back around the table to reach a genuinely negotiated settlement on all of the issues.

“Otherwise major disruption is on the cards during the hectic Christmas period when hundreds of thousands of people will be getting away for sun and skiing as well as visiting family and friends.”

A Heathrow spokesman said: “As a responsible employer, we are continuing discussions with Unite the Union on how we can build on that success, while delivering even better value and experience for our passengers.

“We are disappointed to hear that Unite is balloting their members who work at Heathrow for industrial action.

“We are hopeful that Heathrow colleagues will vote ‘no’ and that we will find a solution that works for everyone.

“However, should industrial action take place, we have robust contingency plans in place which will ensure the airport continues to operate safely and minimise disruption to the airport’s operation.”


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