Heathrow could be 'brought to standstill' as baggage staff balloted to strike

Workers at Vanderlande Industries, who manage baggage carousels, are in a dispute over pay. Credit: PA

Heathrow Airport could be hit with strikes as workers who manage baggage carousels are balloted for industrial action in a dispute over pay.

The Unite union said that if its members at Vanderlande Industries decide to go ahead with the strike, it will "bring all terminals and airline baggage handling to a standstill".

It says the Netherlands-based company has made two below-inflation pay offers of just 2.5% and 5% - each of which have been rejected by members.

Unite has accused the logistics and material handling firm of "pleading poverty", adding that its last accounts at Companies House showed profits of £3.7 million.

Two pay offers of 2.5% and 5% had previously been rejected. Credit: PA

Around 170 workers conduct high-end maintenance and servicing of baggage carousels at Heathrow to make sure passengers' luggage is safely delivered to terminal buildings.

“Workers at Heathrow Airport employed by Vanderlande do a safety and security critical role that passengers depend on," said Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham.

"The fact that their employer refuses to recognise this, as shown by their pitiful pay offer, speaks volumes.

“They should be ashamed that, during a cost-of-living crisis, they are acting in such a penny-pinching manner while their bottom line shows just how much money they are making.” Unite regional officer, Russ Ball, added: “Vanderlande is treating its workers appallingly and Unite’s complete focus on the jobs, pay and conditions of its members will mean that our members at Heathrow will receive the union’s unflinching support.” A Vandelrande UK Ltd spokesperson told ITV London: "We are saddened to hear that Unite have taken the steps toward an Industrial Action ballot.

"We are concerned that the latest offer put to Unite has not been presented to its members for consideration.

"We urge Unite to present our latest offer for consideration and continue meaningful discussion in order to avoid the impact of any Industrial action. Vanderlande has actively asked Unite to continue discussions in order to find an agreement."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...