Last chance for BAA and Unite to prevent bank holiday strikes

BOSSES from airport operator BAA and the Unite union are meeting today in a last-ditch attempt to prevent the closure of six airports over the August bank holiday weekend.

The meeting, at conciliation service Acas, is likely to be the last chance the two sides will have to come to an agreement over pay and prevent the proposed industrial action, which could affect more than a million passengers next weekend.

Unite, which represents more than 6,000 BAA staff, wants an improvement on the one per cent pay increase offer for 2010, which it describes as an effective pay cut given the current rate of inflation. Three quarters of BAA members have agreed to industrial action, according to Unite.

Unite chief Tony Woodley said yesterday the union’s demands were not unreasonable and he had no doubt an improved offer could be made by the airline.

He added that the union will do its best to avoid strike action.

Airports owned by BAA, which include Heathrow, Stansted, Glasgow and Edinburgh, have not been closed by strike action before, although a walkout was narrowly avoided in 2002 by an improved offer to workers.