Birmingham Airport, Shell and airlines pressure Menzies to avert strike

Exterior view of Birmingham Airport Terminal building.
Photo Credit: Birmingham Airport

In a recent announcement, Unite, the UK’s prominent union, revealed that Birmingham Airport, along with oil giant Shell and various airlines, is working collectively to thwart the possibility of holiday strike chaos.

The impending all-out indefinite strike action, scheduled to commence on Tuesday, 15th August, is a result of pay disputes among Menzies refuelling tanker drivers and operators, who are responsible for refuelling a significant portion of the airport’s planes.

The Looming Strike

The looming strike poses a substantial challenge due to the specialized nature of the role these workers undertake. Additionally, a recent ban on agency workers, starting from 10th August, further exacerbates the situation.

The limited availability of non-Menzies refuellers to provide adequate cover during the strikes intensifies concerns, as it affects the smooth functioning of the airport and its associated services.

Key Players Involved

The airlines operating at Birmingham Airport, which include prominent names such as TUI, easyJet, Wizz Air, Ryanair, Lufthansa, and Emirates, are directly impacted by the strike.

 Menzies, the contracted entity responsible for running refuelling operations at the airport, has a strategic partnership with Shell.

This partnership is evident from the Shell-branded work gear worn by refuelling workers and the prominent Shell logo adorning the tankers.


An easyJet Airbus A320 taxis at Birmingham Airport.
Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Unite’s Perspective

Sharon Graham, the General Secretary of Unite, emphasized the pivotal role that Menzies’ workforce plays in ensuring the smooth operation of Birmingham Airport.

Graham expressed disappointment in Menzies’ reluctance to share the substantial profits generated due to the efforts of these highly skilled workers.

“This is just greed and Menzies’ clients and service users are right to pressure it to end this dispute. Menzies’ needs to put forward an offer our members can accept,” said Graham.

Pay Discrepancies

Sulinder Singh, a Regional Officer of Unite, weighed in on the matter by asserting that Menzies has the capacity to swiftly address the dispute and avoid the impending strike by offering a reasonable pay package.

Singh placed the responsibility squarely on Menzies, underscoring that any disruptions at Birmingham Airport would directly result from the company’s actions or lack thereof.

“The ball is in the company’s court – it will be directly responsible for any disruption caused at Birmingham airport,” Singh asserted.

Other Strike Action at Gatwick

As stakeholders move to avert strike action at Birmingham Airport, further trouble is brewing in the south at London Gatwick airport.

The Unite union disclosed details of the new strike action proposed for the London airport across an eight-day period this month which will include the busy August Bank Holiday weekend.

Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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