by Callum Joyce, Southern and South East Socialist Party
On 31 March, security guards at Heathrow, members of Unite, began a ten-day strike after a below-inflation pay offer.
This comes after many workers were victims of fire-and-rehire during the pandemic. One worker said they have lost over £600 a month in wages under their new contract. Especially for young workers living in the area, the high cost of housing means that many are unable to manage on the low wage.
Meanwhile the company continues to make huge profits, enough to hire replacement workers for the strike and put them up in a nearby hotel. The CEO of Heathrow Airports Ltd was given an 88% pay rise for 2021, but the company claims that there is no money for the additional 2% rise that workers are asking for on top of what has already been offered. One striker said: “If you want a world-class airport, then pay your staff properly”.
Many of the security staff recalled how the job was much better before the airport was privatised. As a striker said: “Once it’s privatised, they only care about profit”.
If the private companies involved in running the airport are not willing to provide a decent standard of living for staff, then the airport should be renationalised and run under democratic workers’ control. The huge profits made by the airport could then be reinvested. That way, a high-quality service could be provided to passengers, and staff could work without fear of the cost-of-living crisis.