Menzies workers threaten strike action at Heathrow

Written by: Samantha Payne |
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More than 400 workers at Menzies have been balloted for strike action today (13 January) in a dispute over pay.

The company, unlike its competitors dnata and Swissport, has refused to enter into meaningful negotiations over outstanding pay increases for its workers for either 2020 or 2021 according to the Unite trade union.

The union claims that workers at Menizes believe that they are being treated as second class citizens within their own company as workers in Menzies’ cargo division secured a seven per cent pay increase in 2021.

But in a press statement issued by Menzies, it refutes the claims made by Unite, saying they want to achieve an amicable resolution with employees, making it clear that their cargo, ground handling and fuel services divisions were separate business units with their own challenges caused by the pandemic.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The UK is facing a cost of living crisis and our members at Menzies realise that a two year pay freeze will make it impossible to make ends meet.

“Unite fights to defend the jobs, pay and conditions of our members. We make no apology for demanding that Menzies makes a fair pay offer to its workers. Unite will be defending our members’ interests to the hilt until this dispute is resolved.”

The affected Menzies workers are split between two main functions. One group provides ground handling and passenger services for a host of airlines including: American, Lufthansa, Austrian, Swiss, China airlines, Air Canada, Germanwings, Croatian, Icelandair, Finnair, Aer Lingus, Egyptair, Qantas and Loganair.

The other group is responsible for refuelling for British Airways and a joint venture operation with Shell/Exxon and Mobil.

Phil Lloyd, Senior Vice President UK & Ireland, Menzies Aviation said: We refute the claims made by Unite and re-iterate our wish to enter into meaningful discussions in order that an amicable resolution can be achieved.

“Our overall operations at London Heathrow have been significantly loss making through the Covid crisis, despite government support, and we have done everything we can to support our workforce through these unprecedented times.

“By holding a ballot for industrial action, including areas of our business where pay negotiations have not even commenced, is particularly unhelpful at a time when everyone in the UK aviation industry is attempting to rebuild consumer confidence and safeguard employment by restoring flight schedules.

“It’s worth noting our cargo, ground handling and fuel services are three distinct business units with their own challenges brought about by the pandemic. We urge Unite to engage in a constructive manner with each business unit."

The strike ballot will close on 27 January and if workers vote for industrial action, strikes could begin in mid-February affecting flights scheduled for the half-term holidays.

Unite regional officer Kevin Hall said: “If strike action goes ahead it will cause disruption and cancellations throughout Heathrow, potentially impacting on half-term trips and skiing holidays. Industrial action can still be prevented if Menzies takes a leaf out of its competitors handbooks, enters into meaningful negotiations with Unite and makes a fair pay offer.”



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