Unite has announced it will ballot is members who work at Heathrow Airport over the controversial “fire and rehire” proposals that could see the pay of 4,000 workers cut by as much as £8,000.
Unite the Union will open the ballot of its members who work at Heathrow Airport on Thursday, with the ballot due to close on 5 November. Unite, which represents Heathrow workers including engineers, security offices, airside operatives and firefighters, says the dispute is a direct result of Heathrow Airport’s controversial decision to issue section 188 redundancy notices and their plan to “fire and rehire” workers on inferior pay and conditions.
Employees of Heathrow Airport Ltd (HAL) face losing up to £8,000 per year – which represents 25% of their pay – which could push many workers into poverty.
Heathrow has claimed that the pay cuts are necessary following the collapse in demand for air travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unite, however, have rejected this and claim the true intention is to use the “cover of Covid” to implement the airport’s long-held plans to cut workers’ pay and boost profits.
Unite have also pointed to the vast salaries paid to senior executives to dismiss HAL’s claims of poverty. Last year, their chief executive earned £3 million in pay and pensions. In all, 49 directors at Heathrow earned over £21 million collectively last year.
The union has argued that it has offered assistance to the airport to cut costs by working with HAL earlier in the year to oversee a voluntary redundancy scheme which saw more than 800 workers leave. Unite says they have attempted to discuss further cost-cutting schemes with the airport, but management has rejected such proposals.
Unite regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King said: “The opportunism of HAL’s highly-paid managers is truly shocking. They are using the cover of Covid to impose brutal cuts on workers trying to get by in one of the most expensive cities on the planet.
“They are picking the pockets of loyal workers whose earnings are the lifeblood of the local economy yet leaving their super-salaries unscathed and shareholders’ bounties untouched.
“It is an immoral act born from boardroom greed with nothing whatsoever to do with financial need and it will be condemned as such by all right-thinking people.
“These pay cuts are so great that workers face losing their homes with hard-working families being plunged into poverty.
“HAL’s directors and shareholders must look to their consciences not just their riches and step back from this now.
“Unite has made repeated attempts to work with HAL to find cost savings but rather than advance such talks they have decided it is better to fire and rehire staff on vastly inferior rates of pay.
“We urge HAL to drop these appalling fire and rehire plans and instead enter into constructive and honest negotiations with Unite.”
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