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Airport cargo handling firm Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) said it was confident it could resolve a pay dispute among its truck drivers after the Unite union threatened it with strike action.

The union said “freight chaos” was on the cards at Heathrow Airport if the 200 cargo handlers and truckers voted in favour of downing tools.

Unite said WFS must match the pay awards of competitors, such as dnata and Menzies, who it claimed had given salary increases for 2021 ranging from seven to 10% and £3,000 one-off payments in recognition of what it described as the current “galloping cost of living crisis”.

Its members ‘build’ freight cargos and then truck the freight to points at the airport for loading onto airlines such as Air China, American Airlines, Etihad and Singapore.

Unite said they also dealt with unloaded cargo from passenger flights, so any strike could also affect passengers boarding and leaving aircraft as well.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This WFS pay freeze is a pay cut at a time of galloping inflation.

“It’s completely unacceptable. The penny has to drop with WFS that low pay has seen aviation workers vote with their feet and chaos at airports.”

However, a WFS spokesman said: “We are continuing to communicate directly with our staff on the two-year pay offer we have made and remain confident of reaching a positive outcome.”

He said the company would not be making any further comment.