Hundreds of workers to strike at Heathrow Airport in run-up to World Cup

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Hundreds of workers at Heathrow will walk out in the run-up to the World Cup finals this month over demands for better pay.

Unite said 700 staff, who are involved in ground-handling, airside transport and cargo and are employed by Dnata and Menzies at Heathrow, will strike for three days starting from 18 November.

“It will lead to disruption, cancellations and delays at Heathrow terminals 2, 3 and 4”, the union said in its statement.

“The strike action will particularly affect Qatar Airways, which has scheduled an additional 10 flights a week during the World Cup”.

It added that other airlines to be “hit heavily” would include Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, Cathay-Pacific and Emirates.

Passengers returning to the United States for the Thanksgiving holiday, which falls on 24 November, were also likely to be among those affected.

Unite said both companies, which are contractors to airlines, had offered pay cuts when compared to the rate of inflation.

Dnata had offered its workers a 5% increase, the union said, while the offers for Menzies workers varied between 2% and 6%.

They, Heathrow and the airlines were yet to comment.

Unite regional officer Kevin Hall said: “Strike action will inevitably cause disruption, delays and cancellations to flights throughout Heathrow, with travellers to the World Cup particularly affected.

“However, this dispute is entirely of Dnata and Menzies own making. They have had every opportunity to make a fair pay offer but have chosen not to do so.”

*UPDATE* dnata UK reached out to Airside international with the following quote.

Alex Doisneau, Managing Director, dnata UK, Airport Operations (Ground Handling & Cargo),” “It is disappointing that Unite plans to progress with this costly industrial action, despite our offer to staff of an award which, with previous increases, amounts to a pay rise of 15.5% (20.2% for HGV drivers) since December 2021. This is in line with inflation and amongst the best in the industry.

“We would like to reassure our customers, partners and passengers that we are implementing contingency plans to minimise disruption to our operations.

“The Union’s proposition is unrealistic and doesn’t reflect the challenging economic environment we find ourselves in as a business. Despite our sustained commitment to the UK and its communities, the impact of the pandemic, rapid inflation and other local market conditions mean that our UK Airport Operations business is now making a financial loss each month. The increase in salary suggested by Unite is irresponsible and would undoubtedly impact our business’ ability to operate in the best interest of our workforce in the long term.

“Our offer has been overwhelmingly accepted by other staff at the airport and we remain committed to reaching a meaningful and mutually acceptable agreement for all parties.”