Heathrow staff fac­ing pay cuts and end of fi­nal salary pen­sions

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Alan Tovey

HEATHROW staff are be­ing asked to swal­low pay cuts of up to 37pc and will lose their fi­nal salary pen­sion scheme as the air­port grap­ples with a plunge in global travel, unions have claimed.

The com­pany is seek­ing to slash pay and con­di­tions for its 7,000 work­ers in a bid to be­come a low-cost em­ployer, ac­cord­ing to union chiefs – an al­le­ga­tion de­nied by man­age­ment.

A row has bro­ken out be­tween the two sides amid ne­go­ti­a­tions over changes to staff con­tracts. Heathrow says these are vi­tal to avoid job cuts, as the air­port nurses coron­avirus losses of £1bn and ris­ing.

Heathrow also says that pay cuts will gen­er­ally be smaller than claimed by unions, with most wage re­duc­tions com­ing in at be­tween 15pc and 20pc.

The air­port – whose own­ers in­clude Span­ish com­pany Fer­rovial, the Qatar wealth fund and China In­vest­ment Corp – ear­lier this week re­ported an 88pc col­lapse in pas­sen­gers in July com­pared to last year. Around 60pc of its routes are still grounded as the air travel in­dus­try reels from the im­pact of Covid-19.

But in a let­ter to mem­bers, union Unite ac­cused the busi­ness of act­ing out of “greed, not need” and said it was us­ing the pan­demic as a smoke­screen to cut pay and con­di­tions. It added that Heathrow paid £100m in div­i­dends in April.

Heathrow boss John Hol­land-Kaye told unions that he wanted to make the busi­ness a “low-cost em­ployer” dur­ing a meet­ing on July 30, it is claimed.

Unite ac­cused the firm of plan­ning to cut pay by up to 37pc, close its lu­cra­tive fi­nal-salary pen­sion scheme, axe paid breaks and al­lowances, worsen re­dun­dancy terms and refuse to hon­our a pay rise.

Wayne King, Unite re­gional co-or­di­nat­ing of­fi­cer, said: “Heathrow is cyn­i­cally us­ing Covid-19 to bounce work­ers into ac­cept­ing dras­tic at­tacks on their pay in or­der to boost prof­its.”

Heathrow hit back at the al­le­ga­tions, say­ing they are com­pletely false and have been taken out of con­text.

A spokesman added: “The air­port’s in­tent was never to be­come a low cost em­ployer, and through­out four months of talks, our pri­or­ity has al­ways been to pro­tect jobs.”

Heathrow said that ear­lier pay deals were agreed in a far bet­ter busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment, and that it has been forced to take ac­tion now to pro­tect jobs.

He said: “Our fi­nal pro­posal will pro­vide a job for all of our col­leagues and en­sure the long-term fu­ture of the air­port. We urge our union part­ners to ac­cept the re­vised of­fer.”

Last month, Mr Hol­land-Kaye warned that new gov­ern­ment re­stric­tions such as the end­ing of air bridges and the re­quire­ment on trav­ellers to self-iso­late for two weeks could lead to as many as 25,000 job losses for peo­ple work­ing at the air­port.

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