Baggage handlers and check-in staff to strikeDay-long strikes confirmed for Gatwick

16 August 2008

Baggage handlers and check-in staff at Gatwick Airport are to stage two 24-hour strikes, including one on Bank Holiday Monday, in a dispute over pay.

The Unite union said its members would walk out on August 25 and August 29, warning that all baggage handling and check-in operations at a number of airlines would be halted.

The workers, employed by Swissport, have rejected a ‘paltry’ 3% pay offer, which the union complained was well below the rate of inflation.

Unite warned that the dispute was likely to spread to other airports in the next few days and weeks because of similar rows over pay affecting baggage handlers and check-in staff.

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.

More ballots expected

‘This result is just the first to be declared, with positive ballot results expected over the next few days at Stansted and Manchester 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 will not stand back and allow labour costs to determine whether contracts are won or lost.’

Unite has more than 300 members at Gatwick Airport and 72% voted in favour of strike action.

A spokesman for Swissport said: "Swissport is aware of the disappointing news that a small number of union members have voted for strike action at Gatwick airport.

‘Swissport believes that a fair offer has been made to the unions in the light of the current economic climate that reflects the cost of living increase.

‘Swissport is working with the airport operator and the customer airlines to minimise disruption to the travelling public.’

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