Heathrow: strike action on Monday suspended as union talks continue | UK news



A planned strike by Heathrow airport workers has been suspended to allow for further talks between airport management and union officials.

Airport staff including security officers, firefighters and engineers were due to begin the 48-hour strike over low pay at midnight on Monday. The airport had already cancelled 177 flights scheduled for Monday and Tuesday in advance of the industrial action.

Unite, the union behind the proposed walkout, said in a brief statement: “Tomorrow’s strike by Unite members working for Heathrow airport has been suspended to allow for further talks at Acas tomorrow [Monday].

“Under the chairmanship of the conciliation service Acas, tomorrow’s talks will involve senior directors from Heathrow airport and senior Unite officials with the aim of averting a second day of planned strike action set to start at 00.01 and finish at 23.59 on Tuesday 6 August.

“Unite will not be making any further comment while talks are ongoing.”

The Guardian understands that despite Monday’s strike action being suspended, it is now up to individual airlines to decide whether to reinstate the cancelled flights. However, a spokesperson for the airport said that airlines would struggle to do this as they had already informed passengers that their flights had been cancelled.

The cancelled flights reportedly affect about 30,000 people, representing 7% of the total number of arrivals and departures. Heathrow typically has about 1,300 flights carrying 220,000 people each day. It is not yet clear how many of the 177 cancelled flights were scheduled for Monday.

Flybe, British Airways, Air Canada, Swiss, Lufthansa, Etihad, Qatar Airways, Aer Lingus, and TAP Air Portugal are among those to have confirmed cancellations. Virgin Atlantic has not cancelled flights but is moving them from Heathrow to Gatwick.

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Unite have chosen to postpone their strike action on Monday 5 August. Strike action on Tuesday 6 August is still scheduled to go ahead. We will continue talks with Unite tomorrow and we remain hopeful that we can find a resolution and stop this disruptive and unnecessary threat of strike action.

“Airlines may choose to reinstate impacted flights. We regret that passengers have been inconvenienced by this and urge them to contact their airline for up-to-date information on the status of their service.”

Unite has also said further strike action could follow on 23 and 24 August over a separate dispute between British Airways and its pilots.

Of BA’s 4,000 pilots, 93% voted to take industrial action after rejecting a three-year pay deal. The pilots’ union, Balpa, said it would not announce strike dates until it had held further talks with BA.

The court of appeal last month upheld a verdict by the high court, which dismissed BA’s claim that the strike ballot was invalid, clearing the way for Balpa to proceed with the strikes as long as it gives two weeks’ notice. The airline carries up to 145,000 passengers a day.