August 20, 2008

Unions Call for Pay Offer to Avert Airport Strikes

TALKS aimed at averting a series of airport strikes are due today.

Cabin staff and baggage handlers are to take part in a series of 24-hour stoppages involving Gatwick, Stansted and Manchester airports over the next few days.

And the action could spread to Newcastle Airport if it goes ahead.

Last night, the two unions involved - Unite and the GMB - said their officials would meet conciliation service Acas this morning with bosses of the management company in the dispute, airport services business Swissport.

Last week it was announced that baggage handlers and cabin crew working for Swissport would hold 24-hour strikes at Gatwick and Stansted on bank holiday Monday and on Friday, August 29. Yesterday, after a Unite members' ballot overwhelmingly in favour of striking, it was said there would be a 24-hour strike at Manchester Airport on Wednesday, August 27, and another there on Monday, September 1.

The unions are unhappy with a Swissport pay offer and are also concerned about new sick-pay arrangements.

A spokesman for Unite said that the union was looking for an improved offer before any progress could be made on trying to avert the strikes.

Gary Pearce, of the GMB, said: "These are last-ditch talks and the employers need to put more money on the table if they are to avoid a strike next Monday."

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