Heathrow handler strikes at dnata and Menzies set to go ahead

Source: Heathrow Airports Limited

Heathrow ground handlers at dnata and Menzies will take part in three days of strike action later this month over a pay dispute.

The union representing the workers, Unite, warned that the strike action starting on November 18 and running to November 21 will cause “disruption, cancellation and delays” to flights operating from terminals 2, 3 and 4.

“The strike action will particularly affect Qatar Airways, which has scheduled an additional 10 flights a week during the [football] World Cup,” the union said.

The strike action involves 700 workers employed by dnata and Menzies. The workforce carry out a wide variety of roles, including ground-handling, airside transport and cargo.

Unite said that other airlines that will be “hit heavily” by the strike action include Virgin, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Emirates. 

The union said that a pay rise on offer from the two firms does not cover inflation. 

“Dnata has offered its workers a 5% increase, while the offers for Menzies workers vary between 2% and 6%,” Unite said.

“All the offers are far below the real rate of inflation (RPI), which currently stands at 12.6%.”

Handler dnata pointed out that if an increase implemented last year is taken into account, the rise is above inflation.

Alex Doisneau, managing director, dnata UK, airport operations, said: “It is disappointing that Unite plans to progress with this costly industrial action, despite our offer to staff of an award which, with previous increases, amounts to a pay rise of 15.5% (20.2% for HGV drivers) since December 2021. This is in line with inflation and amongst the best in the industry.

“We would like to reassure our customers, partners and passengers that we are implementing contingency plans to minimise disruption to our operations.

“The Union’s proposition is unrealistic and doesn’t reflect the challenging economic environment we find ourselves in as a business.

“Despite our sustained commitment to the UK and its communities, the impact of the pandemic, rapid inflation and other local market conditions mean that our UK Airport Operations business is now making a financial loss each month.

“The increase in salary suggested by Unite is irresponsible and would undoubtedly impact our business’ ability to operate in the best interest of our workforce in the long term.

“Our offer has been overwhelmingly accepted by other staff at the airport and we remain committed to reaching a meaningful and mutually acceptable agreement for all parties.”

Menzies described Unite as obstructive.

Miguel Gomez Sjunnesson, executive vice president Europe, Menzies Aviation, said: “Unite are being incredibly obstructive by refusing to join discussions regarding a pay increase for our Heathrow ground handling workforce.

“We urge Unite to take part in these negotiations, alongside the other trade union, and to continue separate discussions with our Heathrow cargo operations.

“This threatening of industrial action is all about creating sensationalist headlines rather than doing what’s right for their members.

“Strike action will benefit no one and will only delay the process at a time when our employees need the increase now.

“We are ready and willing to continue pay discussions, which we believe is in the best interest of our employees.

“I also 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.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members at Dnata and Menzies undertake highly challenging roles and are simply seeking a decent pay rise. Both companies are highly profitable and can fully afford to make a fair pay increase.

“The owners and directors are simply lining their own pockets rather than paying their workers fairly.

“The workers at Heathrow will have Unite’s complete support during this dispute.”

dnata calls for talks to prevent potential Heathrow strikes

Heathrow handlers ballot over strike action

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Damian Brett

Damian Brett
I have been writing about the freight and logistics industry since 2007 when I joined International Freighting Weekly to cover the shipping sector.After a stint in PR, I have gone on to work for Containerisation International and Lloyds List - where I was editor of container shipping - before joining Air Cargo News in 2015.Contact me on [email protected]