Heathrow passengers face festive chaos as baggage handlers vote to strike on second last Friday before Christmas in row over pay

  • Ground handlers who are privately contracted at Heathrow by Menzies to strike
  • Around 350 members of Unite who work for Menzies will strike in a row over pay 
  • Frustrated workers will walk out from 4am on Friday 16 December for 72 hours
  • Britain faces a ‘winter of discontent’ with several unions planning strike action

Passengers at Heathrow Airport will face festive chaos after baggage handlers voted to strike on the second last Friday before Christmas.

Ground handlers employed by a private contractor at the London airport will strike in a 72-hour row over pay, as Britain prepares itself for a ‘winter of discontent’.

There will be around 350 members of Unite who work for Menzies that will walk out from 4am on Friday December 16.

Across the same dates, rail workers, Eurostar staff, bus drivers and driving examiners are also on strike in what will be a weekend of misery for Britons. 

Passengers at Heathrow Airport (pictured) will face festive chaos after baggage handlers voted to strike on the second last Friday before Christmas

There will be around 350 members of Unite who work for Menzies that will walk out from 4am on Friday December 16. (File image)

Passengers have been warned that more travel chaos looms as the union confirmed that their action will lead to some flight disruption. It will come as schools break up for Christmas and families look to escape the capital for the festive period.

General secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘Menzies needs to have a long, hard look at itself.

‘This is a highly lucrative company, which has made a fair pay offer to one group of its workers but isn’t prepared to make a similar offer to its ground handlers.

‘Unite is entirely dedicated to defending its members’ jobs, pay and conditions.

‘Our members at Menzies will continue to receive the union’s complete support.’

Unite said the ground handlers have been offered a flat rate increase – which it branded a real-terms pay cut.

Meanwhile, a Heathrow spokesman said: ‘We are aware of industrial action proposed by Menzies colleagues from 16-18 December.

‘We encourage airport partners who would be affected to continue with their contingency planning and we will support them to minimise the impact on passengers, should the strike go ahead.’

But european executive vice president of Menzies, Miguel Gomez Sjunnesson, told MailOnline that the company are ‘well prepared for further industrial action’.

He said Menzies are working with key partners to put in place ‘robust contingency plans’. 

Unite union announced that their workers would be going on strike and urged Menzies ‘to have a long hard look at itself’

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 in November

He added: ‘The previous strike, which involved about 250 of our 1500 ground handling workforce at Heathrow, had minimal impact on our operations with no flight cancellations attributable to Menzies and 97% of flights departing on time. 

‘We remain committed to seeking a resolution on the pay talks in our ground handling operations so our employees can receive their increase now, and hope to be able to reach an agreement which is workable for both the business and our employees during our meeting with unions on Tuesday.’  

It comes just a month on from an almost exact strike when around 350 Unite members walked out from 4am on November 18.

In November, passengers were warned that Air Canada, American Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Air Portugal, Austrian Airlines, Qantas, Egypt Air, Aer Lingus and Finnair would be particularly affected. 

There were huge fears that football fans travelling via Qatar Airways to the Gulf nation for the World Cup were going to be left stranded in London.

A winter of discontent looms as unions across the board plan strikes. Unite’s Heathrow strike now adds to an advent calendar of chaos 

However, a spokesperson at Heathrow Airport stressed that there were no cancellations as a result of the November strike. 

Tory MP Steve Brine, who is chairman of the Commons health committee, warned yesterday that strikes across the coming weeks could cause more chaos than the infamous ‘winter of discontent’ in the 1970s.

The country is braced for strikes on every day until Christmas in one sector or another. 

Rail workers, including Eurostar staff, nurses, ambulance staff, teachers, security guards handling cash, cleaners, porters, driving examiners, rural payments officers and civil servants are planning action that will affect every day over advent. 

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