Passengers flying from London Heathrow Airport on some airlines between December 16 and 18 have been warned to expect “disruptions, delays and possible cancellations” after the Unite union called another strike by Menzies ground handlers.
The 72-hour walkout by 350 workers is set to begin at 4am on Friday December 16 amid a wage dispute. The union says a blanket raise offered by Menzies “equates to a real pay cut.”
Unite says 10 airlines spread across Heathrow’s Terminals 2, 3 and 4 will be “particularly affected”: Aer Lingus, Air Canada, American Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Egyptair, Finnair, Lufthansa, Qantas, and Swiss TAP Portugal.
Union regional officer Kevin Hall said: “Passengers at Heathrow face disruption, delays and possible cancellations in the run up to Christmas but this dispute is entirely the work of Menzies.
“The company offered a fair raise to a group of workers but not to its ground handlers.
“Menzies needs to stop making excuses and making excuses. Instead, go back to negotiations and make our workers a salary offer that meets their expectations.”
A similar strike took place in November. The union says it has caused “significant disruption across Heathrow”, although airport insiders say there hasn’t been a major impact other than some delayed departures.
The next shutdown is planned to coincide with what may be the busiest weekend of the winter, a week before Christmas.
Miguel Gomez Sjunnesson, Executive Vice President for Europe at Menzies Aviation, said: “We are well prepared for further industrial action and are working closely with key partners to establish sound contingency plans.
“The previous strike, which involved around 250 of our 1,500 ground handlers at Heathrow, had minimal impact on our operations as no flight cancellations were attributable to Menzies and 97% of flights departed on time.
“We remain committed to finding a solution to the wage negotiations at our groundhandling operations to allow our employees to receive their pay rise now and hope to reach an agreement during our meeting with the unions that is good for both the company and ours Employee is workable on Tuesday.”
A Heathrow spokesman said: “We are aware of the industrial action proposed by Menzies colleagues on 16-18 December.
“We encourage airport partners that would be impacted to continue their contingency planning and we will support them to minimize the impact on passengers should the strike take place.”
Most passengers fly on airlines that have different ground handling systems and shouldn’t have any problems.
The Independent asked Menzies for an answer.