Heathrow ground handlers’ strike suspended as revised offer presented to members | industrial action

Strikes planned by hundreds of workers at Heathrow for Friday have been suspended, union leaders have said, as it submits a revised wage offer to its members.

However, other announced dates for the action over the Christmas and New Year period will remain in place pending the ballot.

Unite said the action was on hold after final talks as a “goodwill gesture”. Earlier he announced that ground handlers at Britain’s biggest airport had rejected the latest ‘miserable’ wage offer from their employer, Menzies, and called for new strike dates.

A 72-hour strike beginning at 4 a.m. Friday is now over. Another 72-hour strike is scheduled unless the deal is accepted, beginning Thursday December 29 and ending at 3:59 a.m. Sunday January 1.

The dispute involves more than 400 workers employed by Menzies as ground handlers operating out of Heathrow’s Terminals 2, 3 and 4.

The post-Christmas shutdown would also coincide with a planned strike by Border Force personnel, Unite said.

Unite regional manager Kevin Hall said: “Unite were adamant that Menzies were able to offer an improved salary offer and that proved to be the case.

“As a sign of goodwill, the strike which was due to start tomorrow has been suspended so that members can vote on the new offer.”

The strike is unlikely to cause widespread disruption to passengers departing Heathrow, with neither British Airways, which operates around half of all Heathrow flights, nor Virgin Atlantic affected.

A Heathrow spokesman said earlier that the “vast majority of passengers will not be affected” by the planned strikes, adding: “We have not been made aware of any flight cancellations as a direct result of this action and encourage passengers traveling with the small number of affected airlines to check directly with their airline for the latest information.

Menzies Aviation said it was disappointed with Unite’s rejection of its “extremely competitive” offer, which the GMB union had accepted. A spokesperson said: ‘We are well prepared for industrial action and have worked closely with key partners to put robust contingency plans in place.

In a previous similar industrial action in November, Heathrow said no flights had been canceled as a result of the strike.

The Border Force strike is likely to only affect inbound flights and although it will likely lead to delays and longer queues through immigration for returning holidaymakers after Christmas, airlines have said that they were confident that they would be able to operate flights without widespread disruption.

The additional Unite strikes will add to the general wave of industrial action over the winter, with nurses striking on Thursday and more railway strikes starting again on Friday.