Heathrow handlers ballot over strike action

By Damian Brett

Source: Heathrow Airports Limited

Heathrow ground handlers working at Menzies and dnata will take part in a ballot for potential strike action over pay levels.

Unite, the union representing the workers, said that 700 workers would take part in the poll that will run from October 12 to November 3.

If strike action is approved, they are planned to start in mid-November, just as the football world cup is due to get underway in Qatar.

The workers are employed on contracts for the majority of airlines that operate from Heathrow’s terminals two, three and four.

They undertake a variety of roles including ground handling, airside transport and cargo.

The union said that pay offers workers have received are below the rate of inflation while the companies both made profits last year.

“Qatar Airlines, which has scheduled 10 additional flights a week during the tournament, would be badly affected by any industrial action,” the Union said. “Other leading airlines that will be hit heavily by potential strike action include Virgin, Singapore Airlines, Cathay-Pacific and Emirates.”

Dnata Ltd UK confirmed that its airport operations employees, who are members of Unite the Union at London Heathrow, are being balloted for official industrial action. 

The handler said it was disappointed that the union had decided to ballot for strike action given the pay increases offered over the last cou

“dnata was the first ground services provider in the UK airport community to offer a pay rise to its staff in response to the cost-of-living crisis, with a 10% increase for all staff (14.7% for HGV Drivers) in December 2021.

“We have now offered a further 5.5% increase backdated to April 1 2022 and to date we are the only ground services provider at UK airports to offer pay increases which fully compensates the effects of inflation since the Covid-19 pandemic, with the total increase since December 2021 equating to 15.5% (20.2% for HGV Drivers).

“We believe our offer is extremely competitive and further protects our employees as much as possible from the effects of increasing inflation.”

“Further, the same offer has also been overwhelmingly accepted by dnata Airport Operations staff who are GMB Union members at London Heathrow and we are therefore very surprised and disappointed that Unite has chosen the path of potential industrial action whilst stating they will not enter into further discussions with the Company unless the offer starts at a 9% wage increase.”

Phil Lloyd, Senior Vice President UK, Menzies Aviation, described the steps taken by Unite as extreme.

“Unite are taking extreme and unnecessary steps by threatening industrial action at Heathrow Airport and they are refusing to engage in further meaningful discussions with Menzies and other parties as part of the collective bargaining agreement. 

 “A pay increase of 7% was implemented in January and we wish to continue an open and honest consultation to make a further increase in 2022.

 “Given Unite membership is approximately less than 15% of our ground services workforce at Heathrow Airport, we are confident our contingency planning will ensure airline partners and passengers will not be disrupted should industrial action go ahead.”

Earlier this year, WFS cargo handlers at the UK airport represented by Unite also took part in a ballot over potential strike action before eventually coming to an agreement with the company.

 

WFS’ Heathrow cargo workers approve new pay offer

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