Heathrow passengers face chaos as 350 baggage handlers begin 72-hour strike despite last-minute deal saving Qatar Airways flights to World Cup

  • Around 350 members of Unite working for Menzies walked out from 4am today 
  • It will lead to delays and cancellation for flights leaving Terminals 2, 3 and 4
  • Strike action will affect airlines including Air Canada, Air Portugal and Swiss Air

Heathrow passengers face chaos today as ground staff employed by a private contractor at the airport begin a 72-hour strike.

Around 350 members of Unite working for Menzies walked out from 4am with a picket line in place on the north side of the junction of Nene Road and Bath Road.

The dispute will lead to disruption, delays and cancellation for flights leaving Heathrow Terminals 2, 3 and 4. 

The strike action will particularly affect Air Canada, American Airlines, Luthansa, Swiss Air, Air Portugal, Austrian airlines, Qantas, Egypt Air, Aer Lingus and Finnair. 

Strikes scheduled to take place involving workers at Dnata have been called off after members accepted an improved offer.

Around 350 members of Unite working for Menzies walked out from 4am with a picket line in place on the north side of the junction of Nene Road and Bath Road

The dispute will lead to disruption, delays and cancellation for flights leaving Heathrow Terminals 2, 3 and 4

Strike action by Menzies workers employed in its cargo and trucking sections has also been suspended to allow the workers to be balloted on an improved offer.

Due to the Dnata and Menzies cargo strike not going ahead, passengers with Qatar Airways going to the World Cup will not be directly affected by the dispute.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘Unite’s members at Menzies play a critical role in ensuring that planes operate safely at Heathrow.

Unite says the strike action will ‘particularly affect’ 10 airlines: 

Aer Lingus of Ireland; Lufthansa of Germany and its subsidiaries, Austrian Airlines and Swiss; the transatlantic carriers Air Canada and American Airlines; Qantas of Australia; Egyptair; Finnair; and TAP Portugal.

‘Menzies is a wealthy company and it can fully afford to pay its workers a decent pay increase.

‘Unite’s members at Menzies will receive the union’s comprehensive support.’

Unite said Menzies had made pay offers below Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation of 14.2 per cent.

Unite regional officer Kevin Hall said: ‘The strike action will inevitably cause serious delays for passengers at Heathrow but this dispute is entirely of Menzies’ own making. 

‘It has had every opportunity to make our members a fair pay offer, but it has stubbornly refused to do so.’

Alex Doisneau, managing director, Dnata UK, Airport Operations (Ground Handling & Cargo), 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.

‘The agreed package, including both a pay increase and immediate support for the short term, provides concrete support for our employees amidst the current cost-of-living crisis. 

‘Dnata is heavily invested in the UK and we look forward to continuing our journey with our employees as we focus our efforts on strengthening our leading position in the market.’

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