Dublin: London Heathrow stands to suffer severe disruptions during the busy Easter travel period after some workers at the airport voted in favor of walkouts, the latest flareup in the country that has seen months of strikes over pay amid a cost of living crisis.
More than 1,400 security workers at the hub voted in favor of 10 days of strikes that will begin March 31 and end on April 9, the Unite union said. Other groups of the more than 3,000 workers that were balloted voted against walkouts, Heathrow said in a separate statement.
“Our members are simply unable to make ends meet due to the low wages paid by Heathrow,” Sharon Graham, Unite’s general secretary, said in the statement.
The strike action involves the security guards employed at Terminal Five, which is used exclusively by British Airways, and campus security guards who are responsible for checking all cargo that enters the airport.
Soaring inflation and a higher cost of living have prompted scores of workers to walk out as they demand higher pay. The government has made reducing inflation a priority, with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt saying pay increases should be resolved in a manner that doesn’t lead to a price spiral.
“Threatening to ruin people’s hard-earned holidays with strike action will not improve the deal,” a Heathrow spokesman said, calling on the union to resume negotiations.
Heathrow, the UK’s biggest airport, has offered 10 per cent increases for 2023, which it termed “fair,” and said that all workers are being paid the London Living Wage. Unite said the 10 per cent wage rise was a “real terms pay cut” with retail inflation running higher.
Just this week, the UK has seen train drivers, junior doctors, teachers, civil servants and London Underground workers walk out in protests over pay. On Thursday, unions representing more than 1,000 passport office workers said they will go on strike for five weeks ahead of the summer travel season.
The hub says it had made contingency plans that it will activate to keep the airport open and operational in the event of a strike.