Heathrow workers overwhelmingly reject pay offer

(Adds Unite and Heathrow quotes in final 10 pars)
Last ditch talks are to be held to try to avert a strike by thousands of workers at Heathrow Airport after they voted overwhelmingly to reject a pay offer.

Unite said its 4,000 members, including security guards, firefighters and engineers, rejected a revised deal by 88%.

A two day strike is planned to start on Monday, with a further 48 hour stoppage due from August 23.

Heathrow cancelled a number of flights on Monday and Tuesday before hearing the ballot result.

Unite said it would immediately enter talks at the conciliation service Acas and warned Heathrow against choosing to pay millions of pounds in compensation to airlines for cancelled flights rather than using that money to settle the dispute.

Unite regional officer Wayne King said: “Heathrow faces a compensation bill in the region of £4.6 million from airlines if the planned strikes go ahead.

“Rather than provoking the disruption that strike action will cause, we would urge Heathrow Airport to use this money for an improved pay offer that better reflects the hard work of the workers who keep the airport running safely and smoothly.

“This latest vote for strike action points to growing anger among the airport’s workers in a whole range of vital jobs which are essential to the smooth and safe running of Heathrow.

“Airport bosses need to heed this latest strike vote and the overwhelming rejection by our members of the revised pay offer which offers little over and above the original offer of £3.75 extra a day for many workers.

“It is in Heathrow bosses’ power to settle this dispute. We would urge them to work with us to do so and avoid the disruption to passengers that strike action will inevitably bring.”

A Heathrow spokesman said earlier: “We are disappointed that Unite has rejected the latest pay offer and will continue to seek an agreement at Acas.

“Unite is proceeding with its unnecessary strike action on August 5 and 6 and we regret that passengers looking to get away on well-earned breaks will be impacted by this.

“We have activated contingency plans which will keep the airport open and safe on both strike days. We expect security queue times to be slightly longer than normal and advise passengers to check our website for detailed information on how to prepare for their flights and when to arrive at the airport.

“As part of our plans, we are working with airlines to proactively consolidate flights and rebook passengers onto alternative services in advance. We also advise passengers to contact their airlines for the latest information, as well as follow our Twitter and Facebook accounts for further updates.”

Heathrow said it has cancelled 172 flights departing across Monday and Tuesday, with passengers either been re-booked onto alternative services or given a refund.

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