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Sex toys and hand grenades show vital work of airport staff

GMB members have revealed their strangest moments as they keep the millions of people who use Heathrow Airport safe.

From super guns, sex toys and septuagenarian strippers, being a security guard at the world’s biggest airport is a very challenging job.

Following GMB’s long-running campaign, Heathrow has now announced all contracted staff working at the airport will be paid the London Living Wage of £10.55 per hour by 2020.

Now GMB is urging the airport to make sure all staff – including contractors – are paid at least the London Living Wage.

As part of the campaign, two security guards lift the lid on what life is like behind the scenes at Heathrow.

From sex toys in hand luggage to dealing with a runaway cat worth £10,000, the work of security guards is varied.

One guard explained a serious situation:

I used to work in military and diplomatic post – which goes in the hold of passenger planes.

People used to send a lot of spoils of war from Iraq. You wouldn’t believe it; Iraqi handguns, bags of C4 explosives, that kind of thing.

Someone even sent a belt of live grenades – I mean a full belt, Rambo style, where all the pins are attached to one string.

It was pretty tense. We had to evacuate the entire building while the bomb squad came. Terminal three was shut for about for three hours.

SO 18 and the bomb squad turned up – but they make you go back into the building to show them what you’ve seen. I was terrified.

Meanwhile another guard had a very different story:

I was working on the scanners, asking people to put their belongings in a tray. A woman – who must have been in her 70s – turned up at security in a big jacket.

So I asked her to put her shoes and jacket in the tray before walking through the scanner.

Looking back, I don’t think she can have spoken much English, because when I turned around she was stark naked. She’d taken literally everything off. Not a stich on her – it was all in her tray.

Nadine Houghton, GMB National Officer, said:

Whilst some GMB members stories are undoubtedly funny, the reality is that it is our members who are on the front line of making sure Heathrow operates safely and securely.

It is all too easy to forget the terminal cleaners, the security guards and the ticket agents but these roles are just as important as the pilots and cabin crew staff to a passenger’s journey.

As such, these roles deserve to be paid accordingly. That is why the GMB has campaigned to ensure these groups of staff are paid the London Living Wage at Heathrow and whilst we welcome Heathrow Airport Limited’s commitment to achieving this, we won’t rest until we see that money in our members’ pockets.

Meanwhile, in good news for passengers, Heathrow has announced passengers could soon keep their liquids and laptops inside their cabin baggage when passing through security at Heathrow after the airport revealed plans to install next-generation CT security equipment.

It is investing over £50 million in the next few years to roll the equipment out. Once fully operational, the enhanced technology is expected to significantly reduce the amount of single-use plastics at Heathrow, with passengers no longer required to put liquids in plastic bags.

Image: Heathrow Airport

About the author

Founder Member of Campaign Collective, chair of the Public Relations & Communications Association Charity and Not-For-Profit Group. Write mainly about charity, public sector and social enterprise communications.

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