Passengers set to travel through London’s busiest airport, Heathrow, during one of the busiest times of the year, February half term, are set to be delayed due to 400 support staff walking off the job.
From 12:01AM on Friday, February 11 to 11:59PM Sunday, February 13, members of the UK’s largest union, Unite, will be on strike against Menzies Aviation, the company which manages baggage handling and aircraft refuelling at the airport. Unite claims that Menzies fired and rehired 810 employees and has refused to enter pay negotiations, leading to unacceptable working conditions.
The Menzies workers provide ground handling and passenger services for a host of airlines including: American, Lufthansa, Austrian, Swiss, China airlines, Air Canada, Germanwings, Croatian, Icelandair, Finnair, Aer Lingus, Egyptair, Qantas and Loganair. It means that anyone flying with these airlines to/from Heathrow on the strike weekend could face disruption.
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Menzies’ refusal to engage in pay negotiations is in contrast to its competitors at Heathrow such as Swissport which has awarded staff a pay increase. This has led to tensions among airport workers who say the move is unfair, with some colleagues losing up to £9,000 due to the lack of increases and fire-rehire practices. Menzies recently won a contract in partnership with Shell which will see its services renewed at six UK airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted and new services starting at Liverpool John Lennon Airport.
Menzies recorded a £22million profit in the financial year 2020-2021.
Unite regional officer Kevin Hall said: “The strike action will inevitably cause severe disruption and delays throughout Heathrow but it is taken as a last resort and is entirely of Menzies’ own making.
“Even at this late stage, Menzies could avoid causing huge disruption at Heathrow next month by making a decent pay offer to its workers and returning to the negotiating table.”
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