Heathrow Airport: Refuelling staff to stage bank holiday strike as union warns of 'severe disruption'

Passengers queue inside the departures terminal of Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport (REUTERS)
Passengers queue inside the departures terminal of Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport (REUTERS)

Flights from London Heathrow are set to be delayed and disrupted this early May Bank Holiday, amid a strike by staff at a refuelling firm.

Fifty workers at refuelling company AFS are to walkout for 72 hours beginning on Saturday May 4, in protest against “drastic cuts” to the terms and conditions of new staff recruited this year.

Union Unite warned on Monday the strike is “likely to lead to severe disruption for passengers” including flights being “delayed, disrupted and grounded due to their inability to be refuelled”.

It accused AFS of “attacking the most vulnerable new staff in its workplace by offering them reduced pension and sickness benefits”.

Unite members at AFS refuel planes at Heathrow from 35 different airlines, including household names such as Virgin, Delta, Emirates and Air France.

The union says staff are “furious” at the imposition of a “two-tier workforce”.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “AFS is behaving appallingly by attacking the T&Cs of new members of staff – those it views as the easiest to intimidate.

“But Unite will not stand for such bully-boy tactics and we will be backing our members in their fight for improved pensions and sick pay for all staff.”

Unite regional officer Kevin Hall added: “Our members recognise that if they allow this attack on their conditions to take place, before long this will become the norm. Unite won’t allow that to happen and is standing firm with our members on the picket line.

“AFS will have to answer directly to the airlines and passengers for the disruption caused by their unmerited actions.”

Heathrow Airport said it is working with AFS to support a contingency plan the firm has in place for the airlines it provides fuel to.

AFS is one of a number of suppliers at the airport.

The firm has been approached by the Standard.