Heathrow Strike Called Off For Second Day

Filed Under: Unions

A couple of days ago I wrote about how the Heathrow ground staff were expected to go on strike on August 5 and 6. This was due to a pay dispute, where the union and airport management couldn’t come to an agreement.

Airlines were supposed to take drastic measures to deal with this. For example, some flights were supposed to be canceled, and Virgin Atlantic was going to reroute some flights from Heathrow to Gatwick.

On top of that, passengers traveling through Heathrow were supposed to check all bags, as they were only going to allow personal items through security. This was because they’d have a limited number of screeners available, so they wanted to minimize the amount of stuff being brought through the checkpoints.

Yesterday we learned that Monday’s strike was called off, just hours before it was due to start. This was probably frustrating for some passengers, since many people had already checked bags enroute to Heathrow.

The reason the strike was called off was because management and the union were going to continue their negotiations. There’s now further good news. The Heathrow strike has also been called off for Tuesday, August 6, 2019. So if you were scheduled to fly through Heathrow tomorrow, you’re in luck.

So, what’s going on? As the union explains it:

A strike by more than 4,000 workers at Heathrow due to start tomorrow (Tuesday 6 August) at 00:01 and finish at 23:59 has been suspended while the workforce votes on an improved pay offer, Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Monday 5 August).

Unite said it would not be revealing the details of the improved offer until its members involved in the ongoing pay dispute have had an opportunity to consider and vote on the new package.

However, Unite said that the strikes already announced for Friday 23 August and Saturday 24 August remained on the table until the result of the ballot was known.

Unite will not be commenting further until its members have considered the improved offer.

So strikes are still on the table for later this month, but right now we’re in the clear, which is great news.

Now we’ll have to see what happens with the British Airways pilot strike, which could also happen later this month.

Comments
  1. F*ck these dumb unions. I was at Heathrow today and overheard two screeners laughing about it saying “it better be 4%”. Bloodsucking parasites these unions, wreaking havoc on the traveling public and calling it corporate greed when they’re well paid for their work. If they think this is buying them any sympathy from the traveling public they’re dead wrong.

  2. Fire every member of the union. Move on with people that understand having a job and meeting your commitments.

  3. @boris. I’ve been in a union over 30 years ( not airport related ) Never been on strike. They’ve negotiated to give me a pay rise every year , additional holidays , my pension, overtime pay Most of the frontline staff are not well paid and have to put up with a-holes like you

  4. Just to mention the conciliation service is called ACAS, rather than Aces per the article. Furthermore, with tomorrow’s strike being called off, Tuesday’s won’t take place either which is why the second set for later this month were pre-announced. This suggests the Union expected this to delay the strike, but at the same time give Heathrow a chance to offer something more suitable in their and their members opinion.

  5. If the employees have the threat of a “mass strike”, then the owners should be outfitted with the right to impose a “mass firing”. What’s fair is fair.

  6. I’m withBoris & Ronnie on this.
    @Icarus – I accept your point of view but you’re plain wrong. Sorry.
    Unions are looking for a significantly inflation busting increase over a multiple year agreement.
    The service disruption this is causing is a pain for all parties (airports, airlines and passengers) and I’m not sure EU 261 will actually cover those affected (others will comment and know more than I) but it definitely won’t recommend
    se airlines and airports.
    We’re seeing a trend of strikes in this industry right now in EU.
    Not healthy and ultimately we as passengers will pay for those increased costs of course.
    Not great from any angle to be honest.

  7. Spelling update :
    I’m withBoris & Ronnie on this.
    @Icarus – I accept your point of view but you’re plain wrong. Sorry.
    Unions in EU are looking for a significantly inflation busting increase over a multiple year agreement.
    The service disruption this is causing is a pain for all parties (airports, airlines and passengers) and I’m not sure EU 261 will actually cover those affected individuals (others will comment and know more than I on this aspect) but iI’d be cautious as a a consumer booking right now (exactly the leverage the Union desires and knows it has of course…)
    We’re also seeing a trend of strikes in this industry right now in EU – See SAS and BA to start, Ryanair too.
    Not healthy and ultimately we as passengers will pay for those increased costs of course.
    Not great from any angle to be honest.
    Who exactly wins…?
    Not the consumer which I expect most here are.

  8. I know it would be an unusual thing, but let’s bring some facts and statistics to this discussion:
    From the UK office of Statistics – Labour disputes in the UK: 2018

    ‘There were 273,000 working days lost due to labour disputes, the sixth-lowest annual total since records began in 1891.

    ‘The education sector accounted for 66% of all working days lost, due mainly to disputes involving employees of universities.

    ‘The number of working days lost in the public sector (26,000) was the lowest since records for public sector strikes began in 1996.

    ‘There were 39,000 workers involved in labour disputes, the second-lowest figure since records for workers involved began in 1893.

    ‘There were 81 stoppages, the second-lowest figure since records for stoppages began in 1930.’

  9. JamesN and Boris you’ve been told several times in various threads that U.K. law simply does not allow for mass firings when people are taking legally valid industrial action. Why continue to post your ignorance?

    If this was wild cat action then employers can sack workers but this strike follows a ballot process overseen by independent scrutineers and if HAL thought there were any irregularities they would have gone to court to ask for an injunction.

    Why is it so hard for you and others to understand that there are different laws in different countries.

    And if HAL did sack all its workers how long do you think it would take to recruit and train replacements especially security screeners – weeks and months. Prepared for that length of disruption? That’s if anyone would be willing to take on the job knowing how HAL treats it’s workers.

  10. It’s both impressive and sad that people are actually anti-Union – no clue about the historical rights that were won *because* of them.

    There’s a reason why corporations are anti-union (hint, it is not in their interest to not maximize labor to the bone).

  11. @Russell

    EU261 compensation does not apply in this case as the cause is outwith the control of the airlines as it is airport staff that are undertaking industrial action.

    The Duty of Care elements do apply – so a hotel if needed for example.

    HOWEVER as this is primarily a US blog I’d remind people that EU261 does not apply to none EU airlines when flying into the EU.

    So if because of airport strike action BA cancelled a JFK-LHR flight BA would have to sort a hotel out. if it was an AA flight they wouldn’t.

    If it was LHR-JFK flights that were cancelled then both AA and BA would have to provide the duty of care elements as it is a flight leaving the EU so EU261 is in scope,

    BTW a 4% rise might seem a lot but this follows several years of below inflation rises and the staff – who are not well paid – have had enough especially when they see management getting large raises and bonuses.

  12. Many Americans think of unions as some sort of communist conspiracy. And god forbid there’s universal healthcare

    Because of unions we have a number of rights that wouldn’t exist otherwise.

    Many employees in the US have little job protection. Even if you’re pregnant , most states have no legislation

    Saying there should be mass firings shows how ignorant some people are

  13. @Stephen
    One lost working day is one too many…especially if that means tens of thousands of people ruin their once-in-a-year, hard-earned vacation.

  14. Heathrow might have been called off but the general strike in Hong Kong proceeded as planned: dozens and dozens of flights cancelled, mostly regional but some long haul.
    Transiting between BKK and TPE the airport was quieter than I’ve ever known it.

  15. That is the second day called off now, due to a new offer being presented to the union which will now be presented to the members.

  16. We flew through LHR today (Monday).

    I haven’t been properly in London for years and was thinking a long weekend there for a change.

    Thanks to sub-standard service from British Airways and LHR, that won’t happen and I continue to stay away. As GBP continues to slide, I might have to reconsider.. Well done UK.

  17. Surprised to see so many people blame the union here. UK labour laws allow for strike action, and when the employer is offering a raise that is no more than inflation (2.7% over 18 months again annual inflation around 2%) while offering the CEO a 100% pay rise I’m not sure it’s the union being unreasonable…

  18. Some of the comments here are ignorant beyond belief. These are not high paid staff by any means and despite being potentially impacted (flew KUL-LHR and LHR-PHX today expecting the strike), I fully support their right to strike. The quality of jobs in the UK has got so poor over the years that I admire them finally standing up and bargaining hard.

    The BA Mixed Fleet cabin crew are probably even worse off, that’s not even a real job and many of the crew have to be financially supported by family. Qatar should have never been allowed to be wetleased to break their strike last year.

    BTW – I’ve voted Conservative previously.

  19. It does seem to be a “game” people are playing. “Yes, we are going on strike”, now people have to make new plans, then “Oh, we aren’t” and plans have been changed, canceled, etc.

    Of course many of these problems are self inflicted. You have different pay scales for the same type of employees at BA, in the US you have mergers that only are sort of mergers and the pay/contracts are not merged at the time of the merger. I don’t think a merger should be allowed to be done until all of the contracts are worked out. Taking 3, 5, 10 years to figure this out just screws everyone.

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