Unite this afternoon said that it was planning 23 days of strikes at Heathrow Airport from the beginning of April in protest at the airport’s restructuring plans.
There will be 41 strikes over the period, the union said, ending on 25 April.
Unite said that the strike had been called because of the airport’s decision to fire and rehire its 4,000 strong workforce.
Heathrow Airport refutes this claim, saying that no one had suffered the “fire and rehire” treatment.
It added that workers had experienced pay cuts of up to £8,000 – a quarter of their earnings – and report being forced to downsize, move to cheaper areas or give up their car, as a result of the cuts.
The union also said it was concerned that working conditions at the UK’s largest airport were not safe.
Regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King said: “These strike days are avoidable, yet Heathrow is not listening. HAL railroaded these pay cuts through at a staggering speed, leaving thousands of workers on less pay just before Christmas.
“But while Unite put forward clear proposals in February to resolve the dispute, the company has yet to give any kind of formal response.”
A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Every frontline colleague has accepted the new offer which pays above the market rate and London Living wage. Nobody has been fired and re-hired and indeed 48 per cent saw no change or experienced a pay increase.
“In addition, we have also launched a business recovery incentive payment to all colleagues which offers a renumeration reward if the airport has recovered sufficiently in two years’ time. Despite losses of over £2bn since the start of the pandemic, our approach has protected jobs and avoided huge swathes of compulsory redundancies.
“These strikes unnecessarily threaten further damage to the business, but nevertheless, we have activated extensive contingency plans which will keep the airport open and operating safely over strike days.”
The strike will involve workers from engineering, airside operations, landside operations, fire service, campus security and central terminal operations.
Given the current restrictions due to the pandemic, flying has been massively reduced at Heathrow. Yesterday there were 293 flights into Heathrow, according to air traffic controllers Eurocontrol. A year ago, there were 1,283.