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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Airport News

by New Worker correspondent

At Heathrow Airport a strike by staff in opposition to outsourcing plans was called off at the last minute by Unite. Action planned for last Tuesday and Wednesday has been cancelled, but the union warn that they will activate the ballot mandate which is valid until Monday if the planned talks do not bring results.

The workers affected are in passenger services, trolley operations and campus security who are set to be outsourced early next month to save £40 million. This, warns Unite, will lead to a drastic reduction in the staff numbers “which raises serious security concerns, given the safety critical nature of much of the work undertaken”. Firefighters and airside operation members are also involved in the action as they properly suspect they are next in line. This action comes after the victory of outsourced refuelling workers at Heathrow reported last week.

General secretary Sharon Graham said “Heathrow Airport’s actions are deplorable, it is raking in massive profits [£38 million foe 2023] for the bosses while trying to squeeze every last penny out of its workforce. Unite is fully focused on defending its members jobs, pay and conditions and our members at Heathrow will receive the union’s unrelenting support during this dispute.”

A similar tale concerns catering workers at Gatwick, London’s other major airport, where workers employed by Dubai owned Dnata air services have secured the reinstatement of their shift allowances which had previously been cut at a cost of £1,500 and £2,000 per worker. Only a massive vote for strike action forced the bosses to reconsider with workers receiving full back pay as well as retaining a previously agreed night shift premium.

Earlier 300 Border Force officers at Heathrow held a four day strike to oppose plans to cut 250 jobs at passport control under new roster plans. The new PCS general secretary Fran Heathcote said “our members are angry and disappointed at being forced out of their jobs … the changes will disproportionately hit those who are disabled or have caring responsibilities.

The Home Office should be doing all it can to retain experienced, trained staff – not lose them by introducing an unworkable new roster system.”

Further north the union has secured a substantial wage increase for 80 workers employed by the OCS Group at Glasgow Airport. They aid passengers with reduced mobility issues and they have now accepted a new 10.9 per cent offer that hikes their hourly rate to £12.20 per hour.

However this is still only 20 pence an hour more than the real living wage. Therefore the claim by Sharon Graham to the effect that “Unite has secured double digit wage increases for our OCS members two years in a row. It’s another good wage deal for our members at Glasgow airport”, should be taken with a pinch of salt.