Airport Strike Threatens Bank Holiday Travel
Strike could cripple Gatwick over bank holiday weekend
By TravelMole on 21 August 2008 in News
Bank holiday airports strike threat Strike action by baggage handlers is threatening to cripple Gatwick and other airports over the bank holiday weekend.
Handlers and check-in staff employed by Swissport at Gatwick have voted to take action in a dispute over pay.
The dispute is likely to spread to other UK airports in the coming days and weeks, the Unite union warned.
Two 24-hour strikes have been scheduled for Bank Holiday Monday August 25 and 29.
It will halt all baggage handling and check-in at airlines including Virgin Atlantic, Monarch, Thomson Fly, First Choice, North West, Air Malta, Air Transat, Oman Air, as well as some smaller airlines.
Swissport has offered a 3% increase backdated to July rather than the anniversary date of April 1 and in a two-year offer, RPI capped at 4% in year two, according to the union. The company offer also removes sick pay for the first three days of any absence due to illness, including industrial injury. The union is calling for an increase in excess of 5% in a one-year deal without concessions.
A ballot result for Swissport workers at Stansted is to be followed by Manchester's result today.
Unite members at Swissport will also be balloted at Birmingham and Newcastle airports which could see an escalation of industrial action across the UK airports.
Unite national officer Steve Turner said: "Our members are already struggling to keep up with rising food and energy costs. This pay offer is an insult to professional, hard working men and women who have to operate in extremely difficult conditions.
"This result is just the first to be declared with positive ballot results expected over the next few days at Stansted and Manchester airports.
"Swissport workers will also shortly be balloted at Birmingham and Newcastle airports which could see an escalation of industrial action across the UK's airports.
"Our members have had enough. The liberalisation of ground handling services across UK airports has resulted in a 'race to the bottom' which must and will stop.
"We are demanding a national solution to this dispute which addresses the real cost increases our members face.
"Unite has requested a national level meeting with the company to resolve this dispute but the clock is ticking and if this does not deliver, our members will strike."
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