Security guards at London’s Heathrow airport will strike on several days in May including the day of King Charles coronation, the Unite union announced on Wednesday April 19th. About 1,400 employees will be involved in the strike, which will take place on May 4th, 5th, 6th (Coronation Day), 9th, 10th, 25th, 26th and 27th. The action will result in “unavoidable disruption and delays,” according to the union.
“We have a general manager who thinks it’s okay to raise revenue while denying his own employees a decent pay raise,” said union general secretary Sharon Graham. Meanwhile an airport spokesperson pointed out that the airport had been able to operate smoothly “for the first 10 days of the Unite strike” over the Easter vacations. The spokesperson assured that in May this would be the case again.
The United Kingdom has been rocked for months by repeated strikes in many sectors for better wages in the face of price increases that exceed 10%. Workers from different British sectors such as Health, Education, Transport and Public administration have been carrying out continuous protest strikes demanding better working conditions.
Our members struggle to pay the bills and put food on the table. This is about need not greed.Wayne King, Unite regional officer
Inflation in the UK rose to 11 percent last year in October, the highest in the last four decades. Although it fell to just over 10 percent in January, it is still a substantial increase from a steady two percent over the years.
“We will not let Unite disrupt the flow of visitors to the UK during such an important time for the country,” a Heathrow spokesperson said, arguing that the majority of their colleagues did not want to strike and want to accept the proposal that is on the table. According to management, this would allow employees to receive an increase of more than 10% of their pay, retroactive to January 1, in addition to a single bonus of 1150 pounds sterling (1300 euros).
Unite regional officer Wayne King announced that the offer had however not been satisfactory. “A small one off lump sum payment will not alleviate the financial pressures our members are facing on a daily basis,” he said, as quoted by Euronews. “While the CEO can enjoy a lavish millionaire’s lifestyle, our members struggle to pay the bills and put food on the table. This is about need not greed.”
In the spring and summer of last year, the airport suffered from strikes and staff shortages that resulted in long queues, delays, baggage handling problems and flight cancellations. As the industry struggled to absorb the upturn in demand, Heathrow decided to take some measures. In July of 2022, management introduced temporary capacity limits to improve passenger journeys over the summer getaway.
According to CNN, overcrowding and staff shortages were among the factors contributing to longer-than-expected wait times at airport security, lost luggage, delayed and canceled flights and other hurdles as many travelers eagerly set off on their first post-pandemic vacations. By better balancing passenger demand with available resources, the airport said it would be able to operate a safe airport ecosystem that prioritized passenger needs.