Heathrow ground handlers to strike for three days from Friday

About 350 ground handlers at Heathrow airport will begin a 72-hour strike from Friday in a pay dispute, the Unite union has announced.

The strike action, by workers at aviation services firm Menzies, will affect a range of airlines and disrupt a number of flights leaving terminals 2, 3 and 4 at Britain’s busiest airport, Unite said.

The union said the strike action will particularly affect Air Canada, American Airlines, Luthansa, Swiss Air, Air Portugal, Austrian airlines, Qantas, Egypt Air, Aer Lingus and Finnair.

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 regional officer Kevin Hall added: “The strike action will inevitably cause serious delays for passengers at Heathrow but this dispute is entirely of Menzies own making. It has had every opportunity to make our members’ a fair pay offer, but it has stubbornly refused to do so.”

Miguel Gomez Sjunnesson, executive vice president Europe at Menzies Aviation said the company hhas managed to reach a “positive position” with GMB, which represents most of its Heathrow 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.”