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Heathrow Could Be Hit By Twin Strikes from Airport Workers and British Airways Staff

Heathrow Could Be Hit By Twin Strikes from Airport Workers and British Airways Staff

The largest aviation union in the UK is now proposing two possible strikes at Heathrow as both airport workers and British Airways staff face the prospect of being balloted on taking industrial action against their employers. The Unite union claims Heathrow and BA are forcing some workers to take swingeing pay cuts and accuses airport bosses of pursuing a “greed, not need” approach towards its workforce.

Unite’s general secretary, Len McCluskey has threatened to move towards industrial action at British Airways with immediate effect if the airline pressed ahead with plans to ‘fire and rehire’ thousands of staff. On Friday, British Airways made around 4,000 employees redundant, while a further 6,000 are believed to have taken a voluntary severance package.

Talks continue between the union and the airline over how it could reduce or mitigate the number of job losses despite the fact that redundancy notices have already being sent out. Unite is furious about plans to slash the wages of some longer-serving members of staff by up to 50 per cent.

Now, Unite has said that the prospect of strike action at Heathrow is once again rising over separate plans by the airport to cut the wages of some of its staff by a quarter.

“Unite believes that the airport is using the Covid-19 pandemic as a smokescreen to achieve its long-held ambition to cut pay in order to increase profits in the long-term,” the union said in a statement. “HAL (Heathrow Airport) is cynically using Covid-19 to bounce workers into accepting drastic attacks on their pay in order to boost boardroom profits,” commented the union’s regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King.

The union represents around 4,000 workers at the airport, including security screeners.

Heathrow is said to be pursuing permanent pay cuts, while the union is only willing to accept temporary measures to help the airport through the immediate crisis. Revenue at the airport fell by 85 per cent in the first half of 2020, resulting in a £471 million loss after international air travel was all but completely grounded.

Heathrow, however, says it has enough money to keep going through to summer 2021 without any revenue at all.

Unite has told its members to reject the current proposals, which in turn could then lead to a ballot on taking strike action. The union has not given any possible timescale for how long the process at either British Airways or Heathrow could take.

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