Workers at Heathrow Airport struck again on Sunday 21 February, in their dispute against a “fire and rehire” threat by their employer, Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL).
Strikes planned on 13 and 16 February were called off, in what the workers’ union, Unite, called “an act of good faith”, as negotiations between Unite and HAL continued. A Unite statement said that HAL had provided “an initial positive response” to the union’s proposals, and they would therefore call off the strikes “to increase the prospects of securing a negotiated settlement.”
Strikes have now resumed. This follows a similar pattern to the British Gas engineers’ dispute, in which the union, GMB, called off strikes on 12-15 February, only to resume them again on 19 February.
The widespread orthodoxy in the trade union movement — that the purpose of strikes is to secure negotiations rather than concessions, and that strikes should be suspended to allow negotiations to take place — needs to be broken. Employers will be under greater pressure to concede unions’ demands if negotiations take place under the direct pressure of ongoing industrial action.