Cleanzine: your weekly cleaning and hygiene industry newsletter 16th March 2023 Issue no. 1056
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Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it won’t only be Extinction Rebellion flying pink drones around Heathrow Airport during peak holiday time; there will also be strikes at several UK airports – mainly over pay and conditions – unless an agreement between the various parties can be reached soon.
Both sets of disruptions have had ample coverage in the press and while most people are arguing that it’s selfish to pick peak season; causing maximum disruption and a public outcry is far more likely to get results, isn’t it?
There are several groups of workers involved in the various strikes planned and without becoming too political I think I can safely admit that I have sympathy for one group – the frontline staff such as cleaners who don’t get paid nearly enough for the work they do and who don’t generally enjoy the same respect as other workers.
Pilots, for example, are said to be considering strike action but at a reputed £200K a year and the perks and kudos that come with the job, surely that’s a reasonable salary? They’ve been offered a pay rise of 14.5% over three years - including an inflation-busting 4% increase this year, but they’re not happy.
Heathrow Airport says it’s offered a 4.6% rise to 70% of its frontline workers, with the remaining workers receiving at least 3.2%, but when one considers that this rise would amount to just £3.75 a day for the lowest paid, it’s clearly not fair, is it? The Unite union, of which many of the cleaners are members, says the planned strikes follow the rejection of an 18-month pay offer amounting to 2.7% and frankly if I had a cleaning job at the airport I’d probably be wanting to strike too. Compare the offer to that accepted by Heathrow Airport's CEO John Holland-Kaye, who reportedly received a pay increase from £2million to more than £4.2million between 2017 and 2018, and you can see why the low paid workers aren’t happy, can’t you?
Surely what the decision-makers should be doing is considering a flat rate increase across the board? After all, when the low paid earn so little and the best paid earn so much, a percentage increase only exacerbates the problem for the worst off, who will continue to struggle financially whilst cleaning up after those who enjoy a lifestyle that seems to be ever moving out of reach…
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18th July 2019