Heathrow Menzies workers to strike

Heathrow passengers braced for Christmas getaway misery as Menzies ground handlers demand fair pay

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Passengers flying from Heathrow for pre-Christmas getaways have been warned to be braced for delays as ground handlers employed by Menzies have announced fresh strike action in a pay dispute.

The dispute involves 350 workers employed by Menzies who will take strike action from 4am on Friday, December 16 for a 72 hour period.

The dispute will lead to disruption, delays and cancellations for flights leaving Heathrow Terminals 2, 3 and 4. The strike action will particularly affect Air Canada, American Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Air Portugal, Austrian airlines, Qantas, Egypt Air, Aer Lingus and Finnair.

The previous strike action in the dispute held last month caused considerable disruption across Heathrow.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Menzies needs to have a long hard look at itself. This is a highly lucrative company, which has made a fair pay offer to one group of its workers but isn’t prepared to make a similar offer to its ground handlers.

“Unite is entirely dedicated to defending its members jobs, pay and conditions. Our members at Menzies will continue to receive the union’s complete support.”

The Menzies ground handlers have been offered a flat rate increase which for all the workforce amounts to a real terms pay cut while the real inflation rate (RPI) currently stands at 14.2 per cent.

The approach to pay negotiations for the Menzies ground handlers is at odds with the approach taken to the company’s cargo workers who were initially part of the dispute. The cargo workforce who are based less than half a mile away from the ground handlers at Heathrow were offered a 9.5 per cent pay increase backdated to May 22 and a further one per cent from January 2023. The cargo workers who are also Unite members accepted this offer.

Menzies operates globally and it is highly lucrative; its latest accounts reveal it made a profit of £69 million.

Unite regional officer Kevin Hall added, “Heathrow passengers are facing disruption, delays and potentially cancellations in the lead up to Christmas but this dispute is entirely of Menzies own making. The company has offered a fair pay rise to one group of workers but not to its ground handlers.

“Menzies needs to stop prevaricating and making excuses. Instead, return to negotiations and make our workers a pay offer which meets their expectations.”

By Barckley Sumner