Stansted Airport workers vote to strike over bank holiday

One passenger said the baggage handlers were blackmailing the authorities

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Stansted Airport in Essex is set to be hit by seven days of strike action, the GMB union has said.

The action, by staff employed by ground service company Swissport, includes stoppages over the Queen's Diamond Jubilee bank holiday weekend in June.

The union said the introduction of new rosters would lead to a reduction in the baggage handlers' incomes.

An airport spokesman said it was disappointed but expected flights to operate as normal.

Action in the row over working patterns is planned for 26 to 28 May and from 2 to 6 June.

Avoid job losses

GMB organiser Gary Pearce said the union had been in talks with the company since planned strike action over Easter was called off.

He said: "It is a shame that Swissport has made and then withdrawn a number of proposals including a return to the original four-days-on and two-days-off roster which would have settled the dispute."

Swissport general manager Richard Prince said: "Swissport wants to avoid redundancies.

"The proposed changes to working patterns mean we will avoid job losses. We are asking our employees now to work a five-day week rather than a four-day week.

"We are not cutting people's pay. We are not increasing the amount of hours they work. We are keeping people in jobs."

Ryanair, which flies from Stansted, said a full schedule would continue during the disruption, and called the planned action "blackmail" by Unite union members.

All its passengers would be able to use a web check-in service and travel with carry-on luggage only.

Stephen McNamara, of Ryanair, said: "It is irresponsible of the Unite union to hold passengers to ransom each year.

"Ryanair will not allow these unions to blackmail or disrupt our passengers.

"If this threatened industrial action goes ahead we will ask passengers to check in online and travel with carry-on luggage only."

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