Baggage handlers’ strike set to hit UK airports next week, says Unite
Travellers at airports across the UK will be hit by two days of strikes as workers at Swissport, the world’s largest ground and cargo handler, go on strike for two days on 23 and 24 December.
Over 1,500 check-in staff, baggage handlers and cargo crew, members of Unite, the country’s largest union, will walk out for 48 hours at 00.01 Friday 23 December in a long-running pay dispute, and plans to seriously erode terms and conditions.
Unite today (Friday 16 December) called on the management to take part in constructive negotiations under the auspices of the conciliation service, Acas in a bid to avoid Christmas travel disruption at the UK’s airports.
Unite members voted by 62.5 per cent to reject a 4.65 per cent three year pay deal for 2015-2017, which the union argues, is barely keeping pace with inflation. The staff are also angry that detrimental changes to terms and conditions have been linked to the pay deal.
The changes include freezing overtime payments for the foreseeable future and restructuring pay.
Unite national officer for civil air transport Oliver Richardson said: “We appreciate that this is a very busy time of year at the UK’s airports and that’s why we are calling for the company to engage in constructive talks under the auspices of Acas to resolve this dispute. Unite’s door is open 24/7 for such talks.
“Our members are only taking this industrial action as a last resort in a bid to reach a fair settlement – our members have not had a pay rise since 2014.
“When you break down the headline figures – one per cent in 2015, 1.25 per cent in 2016 and 2.4 per cent in 2017 – they are barely keeping up with inflation.
“The company only wants these increases to be applicable to basic pay and not the other elements that make up ‘pay’ such as overtime.
“The dispute has been compounded by the high-handed attitude of the management in making proposals that would seriously impact the workforce’s terms and conditions, such as freezing overtime payments.”
Unite has Swissport members at the following airports: Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Bournemouth, Cardiff, Doncaster, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Gatwick Glasgow, Heathrow, Leeds/Bradford, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle, and Southampton and Stansted.