United Kingdom: Heathrow Airport security guards on strike for Easter holidays

Union members on a picket line near Heathrow Airport, March 31, 2023. AP - Kirsty Wigglesworth

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Some 1,400 security guards will strike for until April 9, in the middle of the Easter holidays, at London's Heathrow airport, the UK's main hub, after wage talks between management and the Unite union failed.


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With our correspondent in London, Émeline Vin

Ten days of strike for 1,400 security officers at Heathrow Airport who control hand luggage. "Our members are being forced to get to this point," said Wayne King, who heads the Unite branch that initiated the strike. We are asking for an increase of 13.9% to take inflation into account; yet management does not want to go beyond 10%, which amounts to wage cuts. Yet these officers are on the front line in protecting the airport against terrorism.


► Read also: The United Kingdom surprised by a new rebound in inflation

The union denounces in comparison "the remuneration of the general manager John Holland-Kaye" which has increased "between 2020 and 2021 from 800,000 pounds to 1.5 million pounds" while the real salary of a security guard "who makes endless guards is 30,000 pounds" per year, a "decline of 24% in real terms since 2017".

Only one terminal concerned


We know that the majority of our employees do not support the strike ", says the press release of the airport, which points out that Unite has "again refused an improved offer while the PCS union has approved it".

The strike involves only one of the airport's four terminals but the period includes the Easter weekend, a busy period in terms of travel. But John Holland-Kaye, director of Heathrow, interviewed by Sky News, is reassuring. "Terminals 2, 3 and 4 are operating normally," he says. We have asked British Airways to cancel about thirteen departures a day to reduce demand. They did it at the beginning of the week so that people could reorganize; But other than that, everything works normally.


This Friday, 70 flights were cancelled (because of the strike but also because of the weather conditions). Heathrow has hired a thousand temporary workers to limit the disruption.

► Also listen: UK: endless strikes?

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  • United Kingdom
  • Social issues
  • Transport
  • Unions
  • Economy