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Heathrow security guards to strike for 10 days over Easter

Last Updated Mar 18, 2023 at 4:44 am MDT

LONDON (AP) — Security guards at London’s Heathrow Airport will walk off their jobs for 10 days over the Easter break, the latest in a wave of strike action to affect the U.K.

The union Unite said Friday more than 1,400 security guards employed by Heathrow Airport, one of Europe’s busiest, will strike from March 31 to Easter Sunday, April 9, to demand better pay.

Unite said those striking include guards who work at the airport’s Terminal Five, which is used exclusively by British Airways, as well as those responsible for checking all cargo that enters the airport.

The strikes will coincide with the two-week Easter school holidays, traditionally a peak time for travel for many in Britain.

The union said workers are forced to take action because they cannot make ends meet as a cost-of-living crisis continues to affect millions of Britons. Heathrow has offered a 10% pay increase, but the union said that wasn’t enough amid soaring inflation and following years of pay freezes.

“Workers at Heathrow Airport are on poverty wages while the chief executive and senior managers enjoy huge salaries,” Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said.

Inflation in the U.K. climbed steeply last year to 11.1% in October, though it dropped to 10.1% in January. That’s still the highest in about 40 years, and a dramatic change after years of 2% inflation.

Tens of thousands of teachers, doctors, health care workers, train drivers and civil servants have staged disruptive strikes in recent months to demand higher wages. Union leaders representing nurses and ambulance crews have reached a pay deal with Britain’s government, but many other industries remain locked in bitter pay disputes with authorities.

Heathrow said it has contingency plans to keep the airport open and operational.

“Threatening to ruin people’s hard-earned holidays with strike action will not improve the deal,” the airport said in a statement.

Sylvia Hui, The Associated Press