Keep calm and cargo on: Heathrow strikes called off

By Rachelle Harry

Control tower at London Heathrow Airport

The UK’s air cargo industry is set to run smoothly this weekend after planned strikes at London’s Heathrow Airport, scheduled to happen on July 26-27, were postponed.

The strikes could have caused significant disruption to UK air cargo operations, in addition to many other flights and services at Heathrow.

In response to the strike postponement, IAG Cargo has confirmed that it is operating a full schedule with no operational restrictions in place. Its customers can continue to book, collect and drop-off shipments as per usual.

Unite, Heathrow Airport and the conciliation service Acas are continuing to cooperate in an attempt to prevent further strike action planned to take place on August 5-6, and 23 August 23-24.

More than 4,000 Heathrow Airport staff – security guards, engineers, passenger service operatives, passenger service drivers, firefighters and fire and rescue staff – had planned to strike this weekend in response to an 18 month pay offer amounting to 2.7%, which according to Unite, amounts to £3.75 extra a day for the lowest paid workers involved in the dispute.

Another cause of the potential strike action was the deepening anger over pay disparities between workers doing the same job at the airport, Unite said.

In addition, the union pointed out that Heathrow Airport’s chief executive officer John Holland-Kaye, received a 103.2% pay increase with his basic remuneration package rising from £2.1m in 2017 to £4.2m in 2018.

Commenting Unite regional officer Russ Bull said: “Bosses at Heathrow Airport need to heed this massive vote in favour of strike action by a group of workers who are essential to the airport’s safety.

“They need to seize the window of opportunity that talks at the conciliation service Acas offer and work with Unite to resolve this pay dispute. The disruption of strike action can be avoided, but only if Heathrow Airport bosses start listening to staff across the airport.”

This summer, UK air cargo operations could be further disrupted by strikes from British Airways (BA) pilots. The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) announced today that 93% of BA pilots voted in favour of industrial action in a dispute over pay. Potential dates for the strike have not yet been announced.

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