May 2011

Due to a technical problem, postings in the news section from 1st of April 2011 to 6th of May 2011 have been deleted. I am currently trying to retrieve a copy of the data from a backup server.

Jon Purdom

You can now follow the HLC on Twitter

Skyport letters on attacks on British Airways pensions

Fully backing campaign

Sort out pension mess

31,000 elderly people at risk as care crisis deepens

Public sector pay deals 'at zero'

Cameron’s constituency misses out as coalition stops listening on NHS reforms

Are we heading for a summer of discontent? Editor's comment

As the stories below show, the government's austerity measures and those of many businesses in the aviation sector are creating the most unsettled industrial situation since the 1970s. While British Airways seems to have come within reach of a settlement to its long running dispute with its flight crew, other airlines and companies connected with the air travel industry look as though their battles are only just beginning.

Heathrow Express, Aer Lingus, Qantas and Iberia are just a few of the employers that have experienced or may yet experience industrial action. Beyond civil aviation, there is the prospect that a widespread public sector strike will take place on June 30th in response to a raft of attacks on the terms and conditions of workers - with massive amounts of ill feeling created by pensions being devalued.

Yet at the same time we see that we are not "all in this together". The top bosses of the FT100 companies have seen their incomes rise by a massive 32%. A banking sector that is still being subsidised to the tune of £100 billion a year has shown a complete lack of restraint in its bonuses.

A message to David Cameron. When workers and ordinary people are told that they must suffer pain because of a deficit that they did not cause - it makes them VERY angry when they see the people that in one way or another did contribute to the recession living the high life. Close those tax loopholes, Dave and bring in that "Robin Hood tax". And stop trying to get the middle, the poor, the vulnerable, the elderly and the sick to pay for this deficit. If you do not listen to us, then June the 30th may just mark the beginning of a time when the people decided "ENOUGH - we're not standing for this anymore"!

31st May 2011

British Airways to invest £5.5 billion to improve aircraft fleet

Aer Lingus admits IALPA and IMPACT dispute may cause complete cancellation of services

British Airways Pension Trustee - "Why I resigned" (Skyport interview)

Industrial unrest between Qantas and engineers and pilots continues

Ballot of British Airways cabin crew begins

ITF report on the proposed deal and ballot

Iberia pilots could ground fleet with summer strike

Confidential air passenger data to be shared in deal with US

The latest deal between the UK and the US, which was recently signed off by Kenneth Clarke has highlighted both the low priority that civil rights and privacy are given by US security agencies and the unbalanced nature of the "special relationship" between Britain and America. Bearing in mind that there is a substantial amount of legislation from both Britain and the EU covering data protection and human rights, we would suggest that it might have been appropriate to have a full public debate about this issue in the house of commons before these rights were waived - and whether the USA should have made a few more concessions to the UK in return.

28th May 2011

Unite backs UK Uncut's banks' action to defend the NHS

RMT strike-breaking safety fears as Heathrow Express staff prepare to take action Friday

Aviation threat from Iceland volcano appears to be nearly over - for now

Government delays consultation on Heathrow night flights until spring 2012

Amalgamation of United and Continental into single airline moves further ahead

QANTAS pilots vote on whether to hold first strike in 45 years

TUC says Public Accounts Committee report shows changes to pensions are unnecessary

Reducing pensions may force public sector to pay higher wages to recruit and retain staff

Unions attack DHL over staff lie detector tests and anti-union practices

Latest figures show zero growth and huge increase in government borrowing

As predicted by trade unions and Nobel Prize winning economist Joe Stiglitz, the government's cuts based strategy has left the UK struggling for growth while other countries that have invested in jobs are seeing their economies grow much faster. The ConDems have ignored these warnings to pursue an ideological dismantling of the welfare state. Why? Because without a welfare state there will be no tax burden to stop the wealthy getting richer and richer. 

This government's strategy is immoral. Some of us are suffering now from the cuts but virtually all of us should live in fear of what will happen when we get old, get sick, or worse still end up with a chronic disability. A whole generation of young people is facing the possibility that they will be less well educated, less well off, less healthy and less likely to be employed than the generation before. Act now before it is too late. There are plenty of protest groups, so pick yours and get active.  

25th May 2011

Unite 4 our NHS video - How GPs will be made to reduce services by 25%

If these reforms are not stopped NOW then we can expect a 25% cut in funding for healthcare with perhaps 5 or 10% of the remainder going into the pockets of the private healthcare companies. What else can we expect?

  • GPs will be forced to implement the government cuts, which could be up to a third in real terms
  • Waiting lists for operations will rise, so people will have to pay for private treatment if they do not want to wait
  • High cost drugs and treatments will be stopped in favour of those that are most profitable for healthcare providers
  • Hospitals will close, frontline staff will lose their jobs, many specialist units will shut or be llimited to a few large cities
  • Wages in the health sector will fall, leading to a loss of the most talented doctors and nurses from the UK
  • Less money will be spent on training new doctors and nurses, so in a few years we will have a skills shortage and have to recruit even more medical professionals from abroad
  • As hospitals close, patients will be sent home earlier to free up beds. The assumption is that local councils will provide services at home to assist people to complete their recoveries, but these services have already been slashed because of the massive cuts to council budgets

If this is not what you want to see happen to our NHS, please use this week to email to tell Andrew Lansley that you do not want his changes. If you wait any longer then it will be too late to have your say.

Read the Unite submission on the NHS reforms

25th May 2011

Socialist Worker report from Cabin crew worker: 'Why I'm voting against BA's offer'

Socialist Worker comment on BA ballot

Ash To Hit North Europe, Volcano Dying Down

Air India shift Heathrow terminals from tonight

Disabled people urged to continue fight back against the cuts at TUC conference

Political cartoonist Steve Bell's sketch helped raise awareness of the role of Atos in enforcing government cuts to disability allowances

NHS Modernisation and Listening Exercise - last chance to have your say

This week thousands of people will be emailing the government to comment on Andrew Lansley's proposed Health and Social Care Bill - which will effectively privatise the NHS. Around a trillion pounds of taxpayers money that was intended for the NHS over the next 10 years may be placed in the hands of a small nimber of companies, several of which lobbied heavily for these changes and some of which donated substantial sums to the Tory Party.

These companies are not offering their services for charity. They are in it for profit - which can only come from providing fewer services or services at a lower cost. It is almost certain that hospitals will be closed, thousands of front line staff will lose their jobs, operations will be cancelled, expensive drugs will be withheld from patients and many many people will lose their lives or have to live with chronic illness as a result.

If you feel strongly about these changes, then please write to the government at or go to Facebook to visit the site of the NHS campaign group, which has prewritten emails that you can use if you agree with them.

Don't wait until the NHS is already in the hands of the corporate vultures! Get involved now!

23rd May 2011

Iceland volcano "not likely" to disrupt aviation as severely as last year's eruption

RMT announces dates for industrial action at Heathrow Express

RMT has announced two strikes at Heathrow Express and indicated that it will schedule more if HEX management do not engage in constructive negotiations with its representatives. The dates currently set are for a 48 hour strike on the 27th and 28th of May followed by a 24 hour strike on the 24th of June.

UK Airport News

RMT press statement

22nd May 2011

Unite and PCS unions join forces to fight coalition cuts

Air Passenger Duty change will increase short haul tax by a third

Heathrow Express staff vote for industrial action

Green Party says Cameron must not be allowed to break election promises on environment

There are signs that the honeymoon may be over for Cameron and Clegg, but when will Nick decide to move out of the house?

Harrow bus strike likely after Unite Secretary backs campaign for sacked union official

BAA reports April traffic up nearly a third from 2010

Save the NHS protest on Tuesday May 17th - 17.30 Euston, London

"NHS privatisation will destroy essential services"

The battle to save the NHS from falling into the greedy hands of private corporations that have poured huge amounts of money into Tory party funds will be pivotal to our future and may even determine whether this government stands or falls. Please support Tuesday's campaign either by attending or by emailing your MP or the media. The private sector must not simply be given a licence to print money because it donates millions to a particular political party.

16th May 2011

Heathrow Express staff plan industrial action

Unite and British Airways reach provisional agreement on cabin crew

Unite and BA have reached a provisional agreement on resolving the long running dispute between cabin crew and management, which has cost the ailine in the region of £150 million. The speed with which issues have been adressed will be seen by trade unionists as evidence that allowing Willie Walsh to be the lead negotiator for BA was a major reason that the dispute lasted so long. 

It is understood that the proposals involve a 2 year pay deal worth 4% this year and 3.5% next year, restoration of flight concessions for those involved in previous disputes. The union in return would accept a number of changes to working practices.

The other key part of the deal relates to members who have been disciplined since the dispute began. It is understood that cases will be heard by ACAS and its rulings will be binding on both parties. The details of this part of the agreement have not yet been publically released, but the way that ACAS handles these cases and the inclusion of all who were disciplined over this period may be central to ensuring a stable industrial relationship for the future.

BBC video

ITF report

Skyport report

14th May 2011

Hillingdon Against Cuts

The next meeting of the Hillingdon Against Cuts group is due to take place on Wednesday the 11th of May at 18.30 in Friends Meeting House, on the corner of Belmont Road and York Road, Uxbridge (2 minutes walk from the tube station).

Anyone who lives in Hillingdon and is concerned on the impact that the cuts are or will be having on services in the borough is welcome to attend. More details about the group and the campaign can be found at Hillingdon Against Cuts facebook page.

7th May 2011

Unite in legal challenge to CPI pension change

Please be aware that public sector pensions are not the only ones being affected by this government policy. BA and BAA pensions are among those that have been changed without full consultation with employees, who will probably consider that they have a contractual right to have their pension rise at the RPI inflation rate, which is normally around 1% higher than CPI. Some estimates suggest that pensions may be devalued by 20 to 30 % by this change.

6th May 2011

Fight the cuts to disability allowance this week

This coming week, thousands of people are marching, emailing their MPs, phoning radio stations or writing to newspapers to complain about the attacks on benefits to disabled people. These cuts have already led to a number of suicides and high levels of hardship. This week's campaign will reach a peak on Wednesday (11th May) when activists are asked to do everything they can to make the public aware of what is happening and ask politicians to act.

The government attacks on disabled people are in two main ways. The first is an attack on the benefits themselves. Parts of the benefits for disabled people are being reduced, or being scrapped altogether, such as the Disability Mobility Allowance, which is paid to provide funds for disabled people to get out of their homes, which otherwise become little more than prisons to many of them. The second attack is by using a system of assessments to remove disbility benefits altogether. A private company called Atos conducts a brief test of disabled people's abilities - entirely without consultation with the subject's GP - and in many cases decides the individual is fit for work and removes their benefits. There have already been several cases where people have been stripped of their benefits and died shortly afterwards due to the severity of their conditions.

This campaign, "The Hardest Hit" is against a government's attampts to make the most vulnerable people in society pay for a deficit caused by the greed of the banks and the multi-nationals. Please lend your support. You can find out more at the following websites -

The Hardest Hit

The Hardest Hit (facebook page)

The Virtual Gherkin (facebook page)

Armchair Army (facebook page)

TUC report

6th May 2011

Despite our Luddite tendencies, we've decided to move with the times and set up a Twitter account. You can follow our tweets at hlcheathrow

Don't let the ConDems sell off our NHS to the corporate vultures Sign the Petition

Villages around Heathrow ‘dying due to home buying scheme’

Threat of Swissport cargo strike lifted