London Heathrow Airport has informed workers unions it will seek to cut the pay of thousands of airport staff in light of the ongoing COVID-19 travel crisis, as well as a range of other cost-cutting measures.
The airport has said it intends to introduce pay cuts of up to 20 per cent to about half of its 4,700-strong workforce in the engineering, air-side operations and security sectors of the company.
The airport has informed union officials of proposed other cost-cutting measures for their consideration, including voluntary redundancy schemes, pay and recruitment freezes, and salary reductions for management.
The union has been granted a 45-day consultation period by the airport over the proposals, with Heathrow warning that job cuts will be imminent, should no agreement be reached.
However, the airport has promised that its proposals will serve to “guarantee a job” for anyone who wants to remain with the business.
Heathrow noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has cost the airport over £1 billion since travel restrictions were widely introduced in March.
It has already reportedly reduced its managerial roles by a third, and launched a voluntary redundancy scheme back in June.
“Provisional traffic figures for August show passenger numbers remain 82 per cent down on last year and we must urgently adapt to this new reality,” the company said in a statement.
“Discussions with our unions have taken place over four months and our final offer is informed by feedback we have received from them.”
The statement continued: “But with air travel showing little sign of recovery, these discussions cannot go on indefinitely and we must act now to prevent our situation from worsening.
“We have now started a period of formal consultation with our unions on our offer, which still guarantees a job at the airport for anyone who wishes to stay with our business.”
Meanwhile, Wayne King, an official from the airport workers union Unite, said the proposal would “further undermine confidence in the industry”.
King added, “Our members have worked tirelessly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. To conduct industrial relations via the media in such a brutish manner is designed to create fear and panic in a group of key workers.”
He noted that the London Heathrow Airport is “an incredibly wealthy company”, and claimed that the attempt to cut the pay and jobs of employees was only for the purposes of boosting future profits.