GMB union calls on Heathrow Airport to force contractors to pay living wage

posted on 21st February 2019 by Justin Burns

GMB – the union representing staff at Heathrow Airport – has urged the gateway to force contractors to pay their employees the living wage after the airport announced the busiest year in its history and a huge £3 billion revenue.

The airport said today new routes boosted Britain’s trading opportunities – and it doubled its Chinese connections in 2018, adding six new cities including Europe’s only flight to Shenzhen, the home of Asia’s Silicon Valley. These new services helped to push global trade flowing through Heathrow to 1.7 million tonnes of cargo.

Revenue climbed by three per cent last year to £3 billion, and £2.3 billion was raised from private investors across seven currencies (up from £1 billion in 2017). Adjusted profit before tax was £267 million, up 23 per cent on 2017. The airport also said airport charges fell one per cent to £21.78.

Last year, GMB welcomed the airport’s announcement that all contracted staff working at Heathrow will be paid the London Living Wage of £10.55 per hour by 2020.

However contractors have been slow to back the commitment – and GMB says today’s blockbuster results are the perfect time to lead the way and become the gold standard in airport employment practices.

Over the past three years GMB have led the campaign for ensuring all staff at Heathrow, both direct and contracted, are paid the London Living Wage.

Regional organiser for aviation and Heathrow, Perry Phillips said: “Today’s results show Heathrow Airport is thriving – in fact is dripping with money.

“But that success is built on the back of 1000s of workers who keep the airport clean, safe and operational.

“Yet despite these blockbuster results, many of them don’t earn enough to live on, enough to make sure their rent is paid and their families are fed. That can’t be right.

“We are calling on Heathrow to put the pressure on their contract partners, make sure they are all paid the living wage, and become the gold standard not just in customer service, but in employment practice.”

Talking of the 2018 results, Heathrow Airport chief executive officer, John Holland-Kaye said: “2018 was the best ever year at Heathrow.  We were voted best airport in Western Europe by passengers, while continuing to drive down costs.  We improved safety and closed our gender pay gap.

“We were named “Responsible Business of the Year” and won an overwhelming parliamentary majority in support of Heathrow expansion.  We remain on track to open the new runway in 2026.  I am very proud of the outstanding work of 76,000 colleagues across the airport, who are delivering for Britain.”