Heathrow strikes: What you should know and how it may impact flights

Passengers arrive at the Heathrow Airport, in London
Passengers at the Heathrow Airport, in London. Photo:AP Photo/Kin Cheung (Kin Cheung, Associated Press)

Security staff at Heathrow airport have announced plans to strike for 31 days during summer in a row over pay, Unite has confirmed.

The union said that more than 2,000 officers will begin strike action starting from Saturday 24 June.

Heathrow has previously told passengers it was doing all it could to minimise disruption on some of the airport’s busiest days, that it was looking to protect journeys during the strikes. It follows strike action in late May, and over the Easter period.

The fresh walkout at Terminal Three will mean several airlines, including Virgin, Emirates, Delta, United, American, and Qatar, face delays and possible cancellations this summer. They join strikes already planned at Terminal Five, disrupting British Airways.

The move is set to disrupt school holidays, the August bank holiday weekend, and also Eid getaways.

After rejecting a 7% pay offer, the officers will strike on:

  • June 24, 25, 28, 29 and 30

  • July 14-16, 21-24, and 28-31

  • August 4-7, 11-14, 18-20 and 24-27

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“Unite is putting Heathrow on notice that strike action at the airport will continue until it makes a fair pay offer to its workers,” Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said. “Make no mistake, our members will receive the union’s unflinching support in this dispute.”

“[Heathrow] has got its priorities all wrong. This is an incredibly wealthy company, which this summer is anticipating bumper profits and an executive pay bonanza.

“It’s also expected to pay out huge dividends to shareholders, yet its workers can barely make ends meet and are paid far less than workers at other airports.”

The union added that the dispute could escalate further in the coming weeks as Heathrow security officers are paid less than others at major airports in London and the south east.

They were the highest paid before the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, but are now paid between £5,000 and £6,000 less a year than counterparts at Stansted and Gatwick airports.

Security staff at the airport are responsible for screening passengers, as well as luggage, and checking x-ray monitors, and patrolling the premises.

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It comes as Unite revealed that more than 1,700 bus drivers in London will also stage walkouts over four days in a separate pay dispute.

In addition to this, some 800 First West Yorkshire bus drivers in Leeds will start strike action every day from June 18 amid the company’s refusal to return the date on which new pay rises begin.

Unite members want the deal to be backdated to April, rather than waiting for the increase in October at the earliest.

Watch: Heathrow strikes on almost every weekend over summer

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