Heathrow chaos as ground handlers begin three day walkout

Heathrow: Emergency services on scene after planes collide

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Heathrow Airport ground handlers have started a 72 hour strike protesting about their pay. About 350 members of the Unite Union who work for Menzies are taking part in the action.

There had been fears that passengers flying with Qatar Airways might be impacted.

However, this hasn’t come to pass as a separate walkout by another ground handling company, Dnata and by other Menzies staff, who work in cargo, has been cancelled.

Previously Unite had warned that passengers traveling to Qatar would be “particularly affected” by the industrial action.

Unite General Secretary said that Menzies could afford to increase the wages of their staff.

She said: “Menzies is a wealthy company and it can fully afford to pay its workers a decent pay increase.”

She added that the company had made pay offers below the Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation.

Kevin Hall, Unite’s regional officer said that Menzies refused the opportunity to give it’s staff a pay rise.

He said: “It has had every opportunity to make our members a fair pay offer, but it has stubbornly refused to do so.”

Flights operated by Air Canada, American Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Air Portugal, Austrian Airlines, Qantas, Egypt Air, Aer Lingus and Finnair are those most likely to be disrupted.

Walkouts set to take place involving private contractor Dnata were called off when members accepted an improved pay offer.

Alex Doisneau, the managing director of Dnata UK (airport operations) said that the pay offer reflected the respect that the contractor had for it’s employees.

She said: “We are pleased to have reached agreement on this pay award, which reflects the huge respect we have for our employees in the UK.”

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A spokesman for Heathrow Airport said it was hoped that flights wouldn’t be cancelled.

He said: “Affected airlines already have contingency matters in place and flight cancellations are not anticipated.

“We encourage passengers to check the status of their flight with their airline.”

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