Heathrow Airport security guards begin 10 days of strikes over Easter break after pay talks fail

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Around 1,400 members of the Unite union will walk out for 10 days causing “severe delays and disruption” to flights

Ten days of strikes by Heathrow Airport security guards begin today after last-ditch talks failed to resolve a dispute over pay.

Around 1,400 members of the Unite union will take part in the 10-day walkout, which includes most of the Easter weekend. Unite said talks broke down because Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) failed to substantially improve its pay offer.

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The strikes involve security officers at Terminal Five, which is used exclusively by British Airways, and campus security guards who are responsible for checking all cargo that enters the airport.

British Airways will cancel around 32 flights per day to and from Heathrow over the Easter weekend because of strike action at the airport, and has stopped selling tickets for strike days. The cancellations fall on short-haul routes and the long-haul services are not affected.

Passengers are warned to expect “severe delays and disruption” to flights (Photo: Getty Images)Passengers are warned to expect “severe delays and disruption” to flights (Photo: Getty Images)
Passengers are warned to expect “severe delays and disruption” to flights (Photo: Getty Images) | Getty Images

Unite has warned the strike will likely disrupt school holiday travel, causing “severe delays” to passengers across the airport.

Unite regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King said: “Heathrow Airport has thrown away the opportunity to avoid strikes. Unite went into today’s meeting looking for an offer our members could accept. Unfortunately it seems HAL went in with no intention of avoiding industrial action.

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“The strike action will undoubtedly result in severe delays and disruption to passengers across the airport but this dispute is a direct result of Heathrow Airport’s stubborn refusal to pay its workers fairly.”

Picket lines will be in place across the airport throughout the 10 days of continuous strike action, which begins on Friday 31 March and ends at 23.59pm on Easter Sunday 10 April.

Heathrow said it has “contingency plans” in place to deal with the industrial action, including drafting in 1,000 extra staff – as well as its management team – into terminals to help passengers during the Easter getaway.

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “We will not let these unnecessary strikes impact the hard-earned holidays of our passengers. Our contingency plans will keep the airport operating as normal throughout. We are deploying 1,000 additional colleagues and the entire management team who will be in the terminals providing assistance to passengers over the busy Easter getaway.

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“We know that the majority of colleagues do not support strike action. Following further talks, Unite has again refused to take an improved offer to members, despite the PCS union wanting to do so.

“Colleagues could have an above-inflation 10% pay increase back-dated to January 1 and a lump sum payment of £1,150, but instead they’re left empty-handed by Unite’s actions. The only reason Unite refuse to take the improved offer to members is because they fear they’ll back it.”

Heathrow warned that as at any busy time, it may take passengers a little longer than usual to get through security during the strikes.

It said in a statement: “Passengers can help us ensure they get the best start to their journeys by checking their flight status with their airline before travelling to the airport, arriving at Heathrow no earlier than two hours before short haul flights and three hours before long haul flights and by being ready for security with their compliant liquids and electronics out of their hand luggage.”

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