Heathrow and Unite the union are engaged in last-ditch talks to prevent strikes planned for tomorrow from going ahead.
Unite has postponed the strike that was set for today, in which more than 2,000 workers, including security guards, firefighters and engineers, planned to “shut down” the airport in a dispute over pay.
Sixteen flights departing from Heathrow have been cancelled today out of a total of 676 departures, while five flights have been moved to other London airports.
Heathrow said it was still working to identify which departing flights will need to be cancelled if tomorrow’s action goes ahead.
It said the majority of flights would be unaffected but that some airlines were making contingency plans, such as flying from other airports, delaying flights and cancelling them.
A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Unite have chosen to postpone their strike action today. Strike action on Tuesday 6 August is still scheduled to go ahead.
“We are continuing talks with Unite today and we remain hopeful that we can find a resolution and stop this disruptive and unnecessary threat of strike action.
“We regret that passengers have been inconvenienced by this and urge them to contact their airline for up to date information on the status of their service.”
What is the dispute about?
Unite says the dispute centres on pay disparities between workers doing the same job and the “massive” pay packet of its chief executive, John Holland-Kaye. The union claims he received a 103.2 per cent pay increase with his basic remuneration package rising from £2.097 million in 2017 to £4.2 million in 2018.
However, the airport disputes this. A source close to Heathrow said his pay only increased by 2.4 per cent of his base salary, and that the union is counting his bonus in its calculations.
They said all Heathrow employees received additional payments this year, due to company savings and successes in performance.
Why has today’s strike been postponed?
Today’s strike has been called off while the union considers a revised pay offer from Heathrow.
Previously, the airport had proposed a pay rise of 4.6 per cent to nearly three quarters of its frontline staff over an 18-month period.
That has now been upped to a 7.3 per cent rise over two-and-a-half years.
Earlier strikes on 26 and 27 July had also been called off by Unite as it considered a new pay offer.
What is the airport’s advice for holidaymakers?
Airlines will have begun contacting passengers who are due to travel on the proposed strike days. The airport recommends that passengers contact their airline before their flight and before travelling to the airport.
Passengers should be in their terminal at least two hours before flights destined for other parts of the UK and Europe, and three hours for all other flights, even if you already have a boarding pass and are only travelling with hand luggage. This is because security is expected to be busier than usual.
Are there strikes scheduled for later in the month?
Yes. The same workers are set to strike over the same issues on 23 and 24 August –the bank holiday weekend.
Other strikes that could affect Heathrow are those set to hit British Airways flights.
The airline is currently locked in talks with the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) who have threatened to strike this summer over a pay dispute.
Last week, BA lost its bid to block pilots from striking later this summer. No dates have been floated for any possible strike action.
Pilots voted to strike after rejecting a pay increase of 11.5 per cent over three years.
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