Chats around Heathrow!

Over the last couple of months we’ve been leafleting local transit hubs, listening to workers, talking about issues, giving out our newsletter and offering support. When we’re sat on our own at work or at home, the problems we face can seem overwhelming and particular to us. But they are common to many of us and can be overcome by coming together to tackle them. Here’s a summary of some of the recent conversations we’ve had out and about.

A agency worker, working for Menzies, was being let go without due notice and was being messed around for money. He was trying to chase but was being passed backwards and forwards between Menzies and the agency. From what we could tell this was clearly against the law and could have been pursued by us. A threatening letter might have solved the situation. 

A lady that worked in the lounges as a host said they had issues with bullying. She works in lounges for airlines that don’t have a permanent presence at the airport. They are extremely overworked leading to a lot of people leaving. The gaps are filled by short term agency staff that are of no help as it takes so long to learn the job sufficiently. Seems a classic case of management being under the impression that this is a “low skilled” job and therefore can get away with treating staff poorly. We discussed how much the company would regret their treatment if key staff members didn’t turn up for work one day. 

We’ve spoken to a couple of bus drivers over the weeks. One wasn’t happy with the result of last summer’s pay dispute and also not pleased with the unions response to the companies proposal of remote sign-on (companies attempt to make bus drivers report to bus stops rather than depots at the start of shifts- increasing working hours and degrading conditions). He wanted bus drivers to collaborate across depots and companies but wasn’t optimistic about the prospects of it happening. This is exactly the sort of sentiment that we agree with and what to do our best to be an antedote to this pessimism. Another bus driver was really appreciative of us being out and offering support. He was disgusted by his companies 2.5% pay offer over two years. The offer has been rejected in one ballot and a indicative ballot (a frustrating ballot that is basically asking that if you were “officially” balloted for strike action would you vote yes) has been returned in favour of strike. They are now awaiting the “official” ballot. He said that plans for remote sign-on at his depot were shelved for the moment but expected them to be back at some point in the future. We’ll stand with bus drivers against insulting pay rises and attacks to their terms and conditions all day long. 

A local DHL warehouse worker was very enthusiastic about our group. He talked about being irritated by people’s unwillingness to work together to better our lot. “You work there, I work here, you live there, I live here…. what does it matter, let’s help each other.” He said DHL workers had plenty of issues- low pay, long hours, overwork- but didn’t know how to fightback. He was interested about how we felt about unions and was happy when we shared his anger at their limitations. He took a bunch of leaflets and said he would try and drum up support among his 200 strong workforce. Hopefully he has some success. 

A lady that works at draught tap manufacturer UDS said she had her sick pay taken away since the pandemic and resented management working from home. What really got her angry was the suspension of free bus fares around Heathrow. It increases her weekly travel costs immensely and with all the other increases in cost of living- energy bills, water, National Insurance rise, general inflation- its pushing her close to the edge. 

A young man was heading back from and clearly pissed off with his managers. He worked at a food distribution centre and said management are bully’s and speak to people like dirt. They are overworked and underpaid. As well as this he said a stack of bread had fallen on the floor and needed to be thrown away, but bosses told workers to load the bread anyway. We can help in these situations. Bosses shouldn’t be able to get away with this stuff. 

Another young guy was interested in our leaflet because the council wasn’t fixing his home. Workers living in substandard property is unacceptable. Only the best for workers. Anything less is a concession. This and everything else here, we are willing and able to help with. 

We don’t have all the answers, but we are willing to listen and do everything we can to make sure workers get a chance to stand on their own two feet and take control of their situation. If you need assistance or what to help out get in touch with the Heathrow Solidarity Network. 

Email- heathrowworkers@protonmail.com

Call or text- 07518 573068

Facebook- Heathrow Solidarity Network 

Twitter- @heathrowworkers

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