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Heathrow security staff call off 31-day strike after accepting last minute pay deal

Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport in London stands empty of passengers as staff standby to help.
Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport in London stands empty of passengers as staff standby to help. Copyright AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File
Copyright AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File
By Euronews Travel with AP
Published on Updated
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More than 2,000 security workers at Europe's busiest airport were due to take part in the walkouts.

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Security staff at London's Heathrow Airport have called off a 31-day strike after accepting an improved pay offer.

Workers were set to strike from 24 June with more than 2,000 members of Unite union planning to take part in walkouts at Europe's busiest airport. 

In what was called a "summer of strife", the industrial action threatened to wreak havoc for millions of people passing through Heathrow during the busy summer travel season.

Security officers at Terminal 3, which is the base for many international carriers including American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, were due to join their colleagues from British Airways' main hub at Terminal 5.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham called the last minute deal a "hard-won victory", demonstrating "what can be achieved when workers stand together and take action together".

It is hoped that the pay deal will avoid a repeat of the travel chaos seen at Heathrow Airport last summer. 

How would Heathrow security strikes impact flights?

Security guards have been striking on and off for several months, including during the Easter break and the coronation of King Charles III. Heathrow says these walkouts resulted in “no impact” on the smooth running of the airport.

Last December, military personnel were drafted in to check passports at UK airports including Heathrow during strikes by Border Force staff.

“Unite has already tried and failed to disrupt the airport with unnecessary strikes on some of our busiest days and we continue to build our plans to protect journeys during any future action,” a Heathrow spokesperson said on condition of anonymity in line with company policy.

AP Photo/Kin Cheung
Passengers arrive at the Heathrow Airport, in London.AP Photo/Kin Cheung

Why are Heathrow security staff striking?

Security staff have now accepted a pay increase of between 15.5 and 17.5 per cent. 

Unite said they initially rejected a 10.1 per cent pay offer from Heathrow, which is below the level at which consumer price inflation has been running since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022. 

The union's in-house research shows the average pay of workers at Heathrow has fallen 24 per cent in real terms since 2017.

Unite also said there is also “widespread bitterness” among workers that Heathrow used the “cover of the pandemic” to enforce a “fire and rehire” strategy.

“This is an incredibly wealthy company, which this summer is anticipating bumper profits and an executive pay bonanza,” Graham added. 

"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.”

Heathrow claimed that the majority of workers at the airport thought the threat of strike action was unjustified.

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