Nearly 100 firefighters and fire and rescue staff at Heathrow airport have voted to join more than 4,000 other Heathrow workers in staging strike action this summer in a dispute over pay.
The Unite union confirmed the results of its ballot on Monday (23 July), revealing 97.6% of fire and rescue workers polled had backed strike action over the coming weeks on a turnout of 90.2%.
More than 4,000 security guards, engineers and passenger service operatives and drivers are already committed to three two-day strikes this summer, the first taking place this Friday and Saturday (26-27 July).
Fire and rescue staff will join them for their second and third planned strikes over 5-6 August and 23-24 August.
Talks between Unite and the airport are ongoing via government conciliation service Acas.
The strikes come after Unite members rejected an 18-month pay offer from Heathrow, which it claims amounted to just a 2.7% pay increase.
Unite says the action comes amid growing pay disparity between workers doing the same job at the airport, and pay increases for Heathrow’s top executives.
Russ Bull, Unite regional officer, 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.”
A Heathrow spokesperson said: “We’re disappointed Unite will be taking strike action. Following this decision, we will be implementing contingency plans that will ensure the airport remains open and operating safely throughout any coordinated action. We will be working alongside our airline partners to minimise disruption caused to passengers as they look towards their well-deserved summer holidays.
“We are proud of our record as a good employer and we remain committed to finding a solution. We have proposed a progressive pay package giving at least a 4.6% pay rise to over 70% of our frontline colleagues. The total package offered is above RPI and is specifically designed to boost the wages of lower paid colleagues. We have invited our union colleagues back to the table and urge them to continue working with us to reach an agreement.”