Heathrow strike: May 2023 dates and how could the coronation be affected?

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  • April 21, 2023
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Members of the Unite union working at Heathrow Airport are set to take yet more strike action next month in an ongoing dispute over pay.

Security officers will be walking out on eight dates in May as the union accuses Heathrow Airport Ltd (HAL) of remaining ‘tin-eared’, following on from ten days of industrial action over Easter.

Union officials took direct aim at the Heathrow CEO, with Unite general secretary Sharon Graham saying: ‘Yet again, we have a chief executive in John Holland-Kaye who thinks it is acceptable to boost his earnings by an eye-watering 88 per cent, from £800,000 to a staggering £1.5 million, while he denies his own workers a decent pay rise.

The Unite boss went on to state the dispute ‘is bound to escalate’ and raised the possibility of ‘more workers being balloted and disruption set to continue throughout the summer.’

Here is everything we know so far.

When are the Heathrow strikes in May?

Unite has scheduled eight days of strike action in May – 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10, followed by 25, 26, and 27.

Why are Heathrow workers striking?

Like many other sectors, Unite is bringing its members out on strike over a dispute in pay and conditions. 

Wayne King, Unite regional co-ordinating officer, has said: ‘Our members have been crystal clear they are seeking a substantial permanent increase in pay. 

‘A small one-off lump sum payment will not alleviate the financial pressures our members are facing on a daily basis.

‘While the CEO can enjoy a lavish millionaire’s lifestyle, our members struggle to pay the bills and put food on the table. This is about need not greed.’

The union also detailed what it described as a potential ‘exodus’ of security staff due to ‘endemic low pay’, with a Unite survey claiming one in three security staff were considering leaving their role.

How could Heathrow strikes affect the coronation?

The union has stated that the strikes will lead to ‘inevitable disruption and delays’ at Heathrow airport, just as international travellers may be heading to the UK to attend the King’s coronation ceremony on May 6. 

Over 1,400 security officers will be taking part in the industrial action, which the union claims ’caused considerable disruption’ and ‘resulted in hundreds of flights being cancelled’ during their walkouts over Easter.

However, in a statement, HAL described service levels as ‘excellent’ in spite of the previous industrial action by Unite, going on to say ‘Our strong contingency plans have kept the airport running smoothly throughout the strike period.’

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye, also added: ‘I am very proud of the way that colleagues have pulled together to ensure passengers got away smoothly on their Easter holidays.

‘Our security team has done a brilliant job, supported by our entire management team who have been ‘here to help’ in the terminals. Many passengers have told me that we exceeded their expectations.’

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