LONDON – The chaos at Heathrow Airport continues as Dnata and Menzies are to ballot for strikes over cuts and pay conditions.
It is understood that up to 700 workers, who are members of the Unite union, will be those in question balloting.
Such disruption is expected to be heavy, especially with the vast majority of workers being contracted to work from Heathrow’s terminals 2, 3, and 4.
The ballot gets underway tomorrow and will close on 2-3 November. If they vote in favor of this measure, then the extra flights to Qatar for the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Doha could be disrupted.
Commenting on this measure was Sharon Graham, Unite’s General Secretary:
“Both Dnata and Menzies can easily afford to make our members a fair pay offer and should do so. No matter how the employers present the offers on the table, they are substantial real-terms pay cuts and unacceptable to our members.
“Unite is dedicated to defending and enhancing our members’ jobs, pay, and conditions and the workers at Heathrow will receive the union’s complete support.”
Better Offer Needed…
Dnata has offered workers a five percent pay increase up to now, with Menzies offering between a 2-6% increase. Unite is calling for a percentage rise of 12.3%, which would fall in line with current inflation.
Unite argues that because Menzies recorded a profit of £69 million and Dnata made a £27m profit, there is definitely wiggle room for better pay conditions for its workers.
As mentioned, if the strikes go ahead, then it will cause disruption for the additional flights planned out of Heathrow for the FIFA World Cup.
Expanding on this was Regional Officer Kevin Hall:
“Strike action will inevitably cause severe disruption and delays across Heathrow, especially for football supporters traveling to the World Cup.”
“However, this dispute is entirely of Dnata’s and Menzies’ own making, and they know what to do to resolve this, which is to make our members a fair pay offer.”
These strikes will have a lot of negative impact on fans who want to attend the football tournament, especially with the fact that the World Cup happens once every four years.
Because Unite is looking for a far higher percentage increase, it’s unlikely Dnata & Menzies will cave in, especially if they are offering a lower percentage rate.
A dnata spokesperson has approached AviationSource with the following comment:
“We can confirm that dnata Airport Operations employees, who are members of Unite the Union at London Heathrow, are being balloted for official industrial action. The ballot is over the Company 2022/23 pay offer and the result will be known early November.
“dnata was the first ground services provider in the UK airport community to offer a pay rise to its staff in response to the cost-of-living crisis, with a 10% increase for all staff (14.7% for HGV Drivers) in December 2021.
“We have now offered a further 5.5% increase backdated to 1 April 2022 and to date we are the only ground services provider at UK airports to offer pay increases which fully compensates the effects of inflation since the COVID-19 pandemic, with the total increase since December 2021 equating to 15.5% (20.2% for HGV Drivers). We believe our offer is extremely competitive and further protects our employees as much as possible from the effects of increasing inflation.
“Further, the same offer has also been overwhelmingly accepted by dnata Airport Operations staff who are GMB Union members at London Heathrow and we are therefore very surprised and disappointed that Unite has chosen the path of potential industrial action whilst stating they will not enter into further discussions with the Company unless the offer starts at a 9% wage increase.
“Despite the ballot, we continue to proactively engage with our employees to discuss the value and benefits of our offer and we remain entirely open to negotiations with Unite with a view to reaching a mutually acceptable agreement that will avoid industrial action.”
Phil Lloyd, Senior VP of UK operations at Menzies Aviation has also commented on this:
“Unite are taking extreme and unnecessary steps by threatening industrial action at Heathrow Airport and they are refusing to engage in further meaningful discussions with Menzies and other parties as part of the collective bargaining agreement.
“A pay increase of 7% was implemented in January and we wish to continue an open and honest consultation to make a further increase in 2022.
“Given Unite membership is approximately less than 15% of our ground services workforce at Heathrow Airport, we are confident our contingency planning will ensure airline partners and passengers will not be disrupted should industrial action go ahead.”
All eyes are now on the union members to see which way they will vote when it comes to such strike action next month.
It’s going to be interesting to see whether Dnata or Menzies will budge on the pay increases, but they will probably wait to see how the union members vote on this.
Either way, it’s going to be an interesting battle, and will definitely be insightful to see how the Middle Eastern carriers may react to this if the strikes do go ahead.