UK airport staff call off 48-hour strike, union says

Baggage handler Image copyright PA

A strike by airport baggage handlers and check-in staff planned for Friday and Christmas Eve has been called off.

More than 1,500 members of the Unite union employed by Swissport had been due to walk out for 48 hours in a row over pay and conditions.

According to Unite, members voted by 62.5% to reject a 4.65% pay rise from 2015 to 2017, which the union said "barely" kept up with inflation.

It said "detrimental" changes to terms and conditions were linked to the deal.

Conditions included freezing overtime payments for the foreseeable future and restructuring pay.

The strike was called off following talks at the conciliation service Acas.

Swissport confirmed it had made a revised offer, which Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said the union would recommend to its members.

"No worker likes taking strike action, but often the threat of it is the only way to make headway in very frustrating circumstances," he said.

"All along we have said that these workers have a powerful case. They are employed on poverty pay rates - this union says that this is not good enough and so we are determined to win them a better deal."

Image copyright Getty Images

Separately, talks aimed at averting a planned strike by British Airways cabin crew based at Heathrow airport still plan to strike on Christmas Day and Boxing Day will continue on Wednesday.

The action, also backed by Unite, could involve up to 4,500 staff on "mixed fleet" contracts who joined the airline since 2010.

Referring to that dispute, Mr McCluskey described negotiations with British Airways about pay and conditions as difficult and said progress had been "painfully slow".

However, with several days to go before the strike is due to start, he said: "I would call upon British Airways senior management now to get involved."

Asked if unions had been co-ordinating strikes for this Christmas, Mr McCluskey said the allegation did not stand scrutiny.

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