Strike action hits new Heathrow terminal 5 site

Nearly 1,000 workers building a £4. 2bn terminal at Heathrow airport went on a 24-hour strike today.

Submitted by Steven. on December 16, 2005

Nearly 1,000 workers building a £4. 2bn terminal at Heathrow airport went on a 24-hour strike today (16 Dec ). Picket lines were set up at Terminal 5 (T5) from before dawn as workers from three unions took action over bonus payments.

“More than 900 people have stopped work today,” said Steve Kelly, construction branch secretary of the GMB union, who was on a picket line.

The workers are seeking an additional £1 an hour on their bonus scheme and are in dispute with civil engineers Laing O’Rourke. The unions, who are staging another 24-hour strike on Monday, say the bonus pay rates have not been reviewed for three years.

The workers are set to walk out again on January 20 and 23. They have also banned overtime over the two weekends of the strike, effectively causing four days of disruption during each stoppage.

Laing O’Rourke said “cordial discussions” had taken place with the three unions on Wednesday evening and a further meeting was planned for next Tuesday.

“We are obviously disappointed with the action planned for today. Workers at T5 are some of the most productive and highest paid in the industry and T5 has been a very progressive project in all respects.”

A spokeswoman for airport operator BAA, which is building T5 to the west of Heathrow, said the strike would not delay the building programme.

“This industrial action involves only a small proportion of the T5 workforce. There are currently over 6, 000 construction workers at T5, the vast majority of whom are not involved in this dispute and have continued working normally today.

“The T5 programme is in excellent shape and remains on budget, is 70% complete and slightly ahead of schedule. T5 has an excellent industrial relations track record - the project is entering its fourth year of a five-year build programme and, since construction work began, has lost virtually no time to industrial action.”

The terminal is due to open in March 2008.