Security guards at UK’s Heathrow airport continue strike over pay hike

Security guards affiliated to Unite the Union started a 10-day strike action on March 31 after last ditch talks with the airport authorities for a pay rise failed

April 03, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
3-04 Heathrow Security Strike - UK
Picket outside Heathrow airport. (Photo: Mark Thomas Photos via Unite the Union)

The 10-day strike action initiated by security guards at Heathrow Airport—the UK’s busiest—entered its fourth day on Monday, April 3. Around 1,400 security staff at the airport affiliated to Unite the Union went on strike on March 31 after negotiations with authorities for a pay hike failed. 

Workers mounted a picket outside the airport, accusing the airport authorities of refusing to agree to an adequate pay hike for workers while an enormous salary was being paid to the CEO of Heathrow Airports Ltd (HAL) and billions in dividends to shareholders. 

In its statement on March 29, Unite had said that “in the three years before the pandemic, Heathrow Airports Ltd (HAL) paid out £2.1 billion (US$ 2.60 billion) in dividends to shareholders in Spain and Qatar, who control HAL’s ultimate parent company. Since 2017 the average remuneration for Heathrow workers has fallen by 24%.” 

“The latest HAL accounts show that between 2020 and 2021 the remuneration of the chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, soared from £800,000 (990,160 USD) to £1.5 million (1.86 million USD)—up an astonishing 88%,” the union added.

Morning Star reported that security officers at Terminal Five, which is exclusively used by British Airways, and campus security guards responsible for checking cargo that enters the airport have gone for strike. This has caused disruptions and delays in flight traffic. The strike is likely to continue till April 9 unless the authorities agree to the workers’ demands.

Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham has stated, “Heathrow can afford to pay a decent pay rise to its workers. This is a wealthy company which is about to return to bumper profits. Yet somehow, Heathrow executives seem to think it’s acceptable to offer what amounts to a real-terms pay cut to its security guards and ground staff who are already on poverty pay.”

“Unite has a laser-like focus on our members’ jobs, pay and conditions. The workforce at Heathrow airport will receive the union’s unswerving support in this fight for a decent deal,” she added.