Heathrow Strikes Suspended

Unite, the union representing Heathrow Airport workers at the center of a labor dispute, has suspended its plans for a strike “to allow for further talks at ACAS tomorrow”.  Members of the labor union were due to walk out starting one minute past midnight for a total of 48 hours.

British Airways at LHR
Heathrow is the main home of British Airways. Photo: Tony Higsett via Flickr

The announcement

The announcement came via the Unite union’s Twitter feed with a full statement attached:

Passengers Heathrow
Passengers at Heathrow should closely monitor their flights and arrive early. Photo: Heathrow Airport

The damage thus far

To date, Heathrow has already had to cancel around 177 flights on Monday and Tuesday, according to the Guardian. These flights reportedly remain cancelled. However, the airport is saying the “vast majority” of passengers will still be able to fly. Obviously, the magnitude of disruption would have been worse if Monday’s strike had continued as planned.

Flybe, British Airways, Air Canada, Swiss, Lufthansa, Etihad, Qatar Airways, Aer Lingus, and TAP Air Portugal are among the airlines that have confirmed cancellations. Virgin Atlantic has not canceled flights but instead has moved them from Heathrow to Gatwick.

Speaking with the BBC, a spokeswoman for Virgin Atlantic said: “These services will not revert back to the original London Heathrow schedule and will remain in place.”

Virgin Atlantic, Airbus A340, Retirement
Instead of cancelling flights, Virgin Atlantic’s flights were moved from London Heathrow to London Gatwick. Photo: Laurent ERRERA via Wikimedia

All passengers with flights in and out of Heathrow are asked to check with their airline for the latest news on their flights. The two sides have been in meetings throughout the weekend with the conciliation service ACAS mediating the negotiations.

According to the BBC, a Heathrow spokeswoman said:

“While the vast majority of flights will be unaffected, some airlines are making arrangements to operate flights from other UK airports; others will be delaying flights; and unfortunately a number will be cancelled. We recommend passengers check their flight status before travelling to the airport and read the guidance on Heathrow.com to prepare for their journey.”

The dispute

According to the BBC, approximately 4,000 Unite members voted to reject the airport’s revised pay deal. The result was that 88% opted to strike.

Before the announcement of the suspension, Unite regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King said the following:

“Airport bosses need to heed this latest strike vote and the overwhelming rejection by our members of the revised pay offer which offers little over and above the original offer of £3.75 extra a day for many workers.”

As mentioned yesterday, the Unite union’s members include security guards, firefighters, engineers, passenger service operatives, and passenger service drivers. Heathrow says its pay offer was worth 7.3% over two-and-a-half years.

Heathrow Airport marshal in action
Heathrow chaos avoided for the time being but talks are ongoing. Photo: Heathrow.com
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