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Heathrow workers to strike after pay offer rejected

Passengers in the arrivals hall at Heathrow Airport, London. Photo by Aaron Chown/PA

By Alan Jones, PA Industrial Correspondent

A strike by ground handlers at Heathrow airport is to go ahead on Friday after workers rejected a pay offer, it has been announced.

Around 400 members of Unite employed by private contractors Menzies will walk out for 72 hours from 4am.

This will be followed by a further 72-hour strike beginning on Thursday December 29 and ending at 03:59 on Sunday January 1.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This is a classic case of an employer that can fully afford to pay workers a fair pay increase but has chosen not to.”

“Menzies needs to stop making excuses and make a pay offer that meets our members’ expectations.”

The post-Christmas stoppage will coincide with a planned walkout by Border Force Staff.

The workers rejected Menzies’ latest pay which Unite said was for 4% backdated to May and then a further 6.5% from January 1 2023.

The workers are seeking an increase of 13% for 2022 alone.

Unite regional officer Kevin Hall said: “Heathrow passengers need to brace themselves for fresh disruption at the airport purely because of Menzies intransigence.”

“Strike action is being taken as a last resort because Menzies has only been prepared to offer our members a miserable pay increase that in no way reflects the cost of living.”

Heathrow airport has stressed it does not employ the workers, while Menzies says it has contingency plans in place for the strikes.

Miguel Gomez Sjunnesson of Menzies Aviation said: “We are extremely disappointed that Unite has rejected the pay increase despite GMB accepting the offer.”

“Our offer of a 10.5% salary increase is extremely competitive and reflects feedback from our employees.”

“It is a great shame that as a result of Unite rejecting the offer, strike action will now fall on one of the busiest weekends of the year as people travel to meet family and friends for Christmas.”

“We are well prepared for industrial action and have been working closely with key partners to put in place robust contingency plans.”

“We remain committed to ensuring that our employees receive their increase as soon as possible and hope to be able to resolve this matter soon.”

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “The vast majority of passengers will not be affected by this weekend’s planned strike from Menzies ground handling staff.”

“We have not been informed of any flight cancellations as a direct result of this action and encourage passengers due to fly with the small number of affected airlines to check with their airline directly for the latest information.”

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