Further Heathrow Strike Action Now Postponed

A Heathrow Airport staff strike planned for 23rd and 24th August has been postponed pending a ballot vote by Unite union members. Airport staff will vote to accept or reject a revised pay offer by Heathrow Airport, which would reward a pay increase of 7.8% over two years.

A British Airways Boeing 747 on the runway
Industrial action by Heathrow Airport staff could disrupt hundreds of flights. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

As reported by Airports International today, the Heathrow Airport staff strike planned for the 23rd and 24th of August has been postponed following a revised pay offer by the airport.

The previous figure of 7.3% over two years has been upped to 7.8%. According to a statement by Heathrow Airport, this represents an additional £2.5 million which has been put on the table since discussions began.

The revised pay rise increase would affect 4,000 security, airside operations and passenger services personnel at London’s Heathrow Airport. The latest delay to industrial action by Heathrow Airport staff is the second this month after strikes were originally planned for the 5th and 6th of August.

A summer of strikes

Heathrow is not the only UK airport to have been affected by planned industrial action this summer. EasyJet check-in staff at London Stansted announced a series of strikes across July and August amounting to a total of 17 days.

This dispute was resolved following discussions between Unite and easyJet, after which EasyJet staff accepted a 13% pay rise.

An easyJet aircraft on the runway
A series of strikes have been planned in airport across the UK this summer. Photo: Andreas Trojak via Flickr

Staff at Gatwick airport were also due to strike on 23/24 August, but have postponed the action until after the result of the Unite ballot vote, which runs until 4th September. A number of statements released by Unite have referenced the ‘chaos’ passengers across the UK could expect as a result of the various strikes planned this summer.

Taking the current situation in Hong Kong as a severe example, the possibility of disruption is one of the main driving forces behind negotiations.

A recent Unite press release highlighted a possible £4.6 million airline compensation bill that Heathrow Airport could face in the event of four days of strikes. This is significantly more than the £2.5 million extra that Heathrow claims to have offered since discussions began.

Heathrow Airport responded to Simple Flying’s request for comment on the matter with a press statement saying,

“Heathrow has a duty to ensure the business is sustainable – particularly against the backdrop of increasing economic uncertainty facing the UK in the immediate future. The pay offer we have put on the table achieves that, in addition to being rewarding and fair to all colleagues.”

Heathrow expansion plans

Strikes have not been the only issue on the minds of Heathrow’s upper management recently.

Controversial plans for a third runway expansion at the airport, which have been in the making for 16 years now, have recently suffered some additional setbacks.

In June, the masterplan for the Heathrow expansion was revealed following a lengthy journey of appeals and court hearings.

A British Airways Airbus A320 on the runway at Heathrow
Heathrow’s third runway has been a divisive issue for well over a decade now. Photo: Mike McBey via Flickr

Despite successes in court for the airport, the approval process for a third runway is far from over.

A series of judicial reviews pushed by a group of environmental charities, residents and councils have recently been given the go-ahead. London Mayor Sadiq Khan is one of many high-profile backers of the reviews which will begin on 21st October.

Backers of the Heathrow expansion plans also have a new opponent in No. 10 Downing Street who could yet prove a thorn in their side as the judicial process continues.