Flying high: 48-hour walkout by airport staff called off

Behind The Scenes At Heathrow's Terminal Five
The strike had been due to start on Friday (Source: Getty)

Strikes by airport staff which had been planned for 23 and 24 December have been called off.

More than 1,500 workers at Swissport, including baggage handlers, cargo crew and check-in staff across 18 airports, had been due to start a 48-hour walkout on Friday in a row over pay.

This has now been cancelled following successful talks at conciliation service Acas.

The airports affected were: Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Bournemouth, Cardiff, Doncaster, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, Leeds/Bradford, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle, Southampton and Stansted airports.

Read more: Christmas strikes: Why all the walkouts?

"No worker likes taking strike action but often the threat of it is the only way to make headway in very frustrating circumstances," said Unite general secretary Len McCluskey. "All along we have said that these workers have a powerful case.

"They are employed on poverty pay rates – this union says that this is not good enough and so we are determined to win them a better deal."

Swissport did not immediately respond to City A.M.'s request for comment.

Read more: British Airways owner IAG has cut its spending and earnings targets

Talks are also being held over a separate dispute involving British Airways and members of its cabin crew.

Last week, Unite announced BA cabin crew had voted in favour of strikes over a pay dispute, and announced planned dates of Christmas Day and Boxing Day. It came after crew rejected a pay rise offer of two per cent.

BA has said it intends to run a full Christmas schedule though, after developing "detailed contingency plans". It has not yet provided further detail on how this will be achieved, though chief executive and chairman Alex Cruz said:

"Over the weekend we have been working on detailed contingency plans to ensure that we are able to operate our normal flight programme from all our airports on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day."

McCluskey added today:

I call upon British Airways to pay heed. This union is clearly open to reasonable negotiations.

We sincerely hope you take a leaf out of Swissport’s book and meet our members halfway on what is also a very just cause, the call for a living wage and equality for these young workers.

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