Major disruption at Heathrow as Menzies ground workers go on strike

Written by: Samantha Payne |
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Around 350 ground workers at Heathrow are striking today over pay conditions causing major disruption to flights leaving Terminals 2, 3 and 4.

The 72 hour strike involving Menzies started at 4am and will affect Air Canada, American Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss International Air Lines, Air Portugal, Austrian Airlines, Qantas, Egyptair, Aer Lingus and Finnair.

But Menzies says operations will not be impacted and are willing to reach a pay settlement.

Unite says all of the offers made to date are far below the current real inflation rate of 14.2 per cent (RPI) and amount to a substantial real terms pay cut.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite’s members at Menzies play a critical role in ensuring that planes operate safely at Heathrow. Menzies is a wealthy company and it can fully afford to pay its workers a decent pay increase. It is greed not need which is preventing a fair pay offer being made.

“Unite’s members at Menzies will receive the union’s comprehensive support.”

Miguel Gomez Sjunnesson, EVP Europe, Menzies Aviation said the handler was willing to meet with Unite to hear their concerns but had hoped Unite would have agreed to a similar pay deal that was struck with GMB members.

He said: “Following further discussions this week regarding pay increases for our Heathrow ground handling workforce, we are pleased to have reached a positive position with GMB who represent the majority of this workforce. As a result, GMB members are being balloted with the view that the best possible outcome has been reached.

"Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Unite who continue to be obstructive and push for unnecessary strike action rather than provide any realistic counter offers for consideration, which will benefit no-one and only delay the process. We remain ready and willing to meet with Unite to hear their concerns and discuss the deal we have agreed with GMB in more detail, which we believe is in the best interest of our employees.

"I want to reassure our airline customers and their passengers that we have robust contingency plans in place should Unite elect to continue with unnecessary industrial action, and we are confident our operations will not be impacted.”

It follows strikes involving dnata ground handling workers were called off after reaching a pay settlement.

dnata UK’s ground handling & cargo operations arm at Heathrow has confirmed a pay award for all employees, which they say the pay package is amongst the best in the industry and will help employees manage the effects of rising living costs.

Alex Doisneau, Managing Director, dnata UK, Airport Operations (Ground Handling and Cargo) said: “We are pleased to have reached agreement on this pay award, which reflects the huge respect we have for our employees in the UK. The agreed package, including both a pay increase and immediate support for the short term, provides concrete support for our employees amidst the current cost of living crisis. dnata is heavily invested in the UK and we look forward to continuing our journey with our employees as we focus our efforts on strengthening our leading position in the market.”

Strike action involving Menzies cargo workers and truckers workers was also suspended to allow the workers to be balloted on an improved offer.

As a result of dnata and Menzies Cargo strikes not going ahead, passengers with Qatar Airways going to the World Cup will not be directly affected by the dispute.

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