Steelworkers at Heathrow Terminal 5 look set to win their battle to secure bonuses after strikes were called off at the start of this week.
They began strike action last Thursday in an attempt to obtain a £1 an hour bonus after last-ditch talks to resolve the dispute overran. The action was called off on Monday when both sides agreed to go to binding arbitration. Site sources claim that the deal that is on the table will give the steelworkers almost everything they want.
Airports operator BAA and Amicus are in talks to finalise the exact terms of reference to be put to the arbitration panel and could not comment on the terms for legal reasons. However, sources close to the dispute say the outcome will give workers a package worth “roughly the same” as the £1 an hour over which they took action.
One source said: “It may not be a straight £1 an hour, but it is set to be very close. There may be other benefits involved to bring the package in line with the electricians’ bonus that the workers were going for.”
If this proves to be the case it will fuel pay demands from other sectors at T5. The T&G, GMB and UCATT, which represent civil engineering workers, are understood to be monitoring the situation and will press for parity if the steelworkers win their claim.
It may not be a straight £1-an-hour but it is set to be very close
Heathrow T5 site source
A union source said: “The civils workers already have a claim in, and they want parity with other workers on the site. If other people on the site are getting additional payments, there will be issues to resolve.”
BAA said that claims from other sectors on the site would not necessarily be influenced by the outcome of the steel dispute. A spokesperson said: “These are different trades with different issues. Discussions with other sectors are still ongoing.”
Frank Westerman, Amicus’ regional officer, confirmed that the steelworkers would not take further strike action before the sides go to arbitration later this month. He said: “We will go to binding arbitration on the outstanding issues at the end of October. The men have agreed to the formula put forward in talks with [reconciliatory service] Acas and employers.”