Tuesday 2 December was the first of four days of industrial action by Unite members at Heathrow Airport. Lively and determined picket lines of engineers, security staff and other airport staff were set up at three different sites around the airport complex. Solidarity greetings brought by members of the North London Socialist Alternative branch were welcomed by the strikers.
The employers at Heathrow (HAL) are using the ‘opportunity’ provided by corona to try to smash up long-established rights and pay levels – an offensive which predates the pandemic. However, the proposal to make swingeing 25% cuts in take home pay have been met with a massive 84% rejection vote in the ballot held by Unite.
Although the mood of the workers is strong, it is widely recognised that, in order to drive back the bosses’ offensive, it will be necessary to spread and widen the dispute and to take the issues to every worker employed – directly and indirectly – through the airport in order to close Heathrow down. Only such an approach can ensure that the employers will back off.
It’s also vital to make concrete steps to build solidarity in the local communities in west London, which will be devasted economically and socially if the jobs and wages massacre envisioned by HAL and the other employers is allowed to take effect unchallenged.
Socialist Alternative thinks it’s necessary to begin a discussion throughout the trade union movement about public ownership and democratic workers’ control of Heathrow and all public infrastructure. A socialist plan could create jobs, provide decent services, and protect the environment.