Northern Ireland

Strike threatens to disrupt Christmas travel at NI airports

Baggage handler Image copyright Swissport

Passengers at Belfast International and Belfast City Airports face disruption on the 23 and 24 of December due to a planned strike by baggage handlers and check-in staff.

The disruption is part of a UK wide strike called by the Unite union.

It balloted its members after failing to reach an agreement with the employer, Swissport, in a long-running dispute about pay.

A second 48-hour strike is planned to start on 6 January.

'Contingency plans'

Belfast International Airport said it is looking into the implications of the strike: "December the 23rd is one of the busiest days of the year with around 62 inbound, and 62 outbound flights.

"Christmas Eve is also very busy for flights.

"We have contingency plans in place to deal with any industrial action.

"We have teams on stand-by to minimise any disruption over this busy time."

'Unnecessary disruption'

Unite Regional Officer, George Brash, has called on Swissport to engage with his union through the conciliation service ACAS.

He said: "We appreciate that this is a very busy time of year at our airports and we are urging management to make a serious offer to meet the workforce's pay expectations.

"This will be a UK-wide strike involving over 1,500 check-in staff, baggage handlers and cargo crew.

"It is likely that this will result in severe disruption at both Belfast City and International Airports where Unite represents the overwhelming majority of workers."

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