Stansted strike called off

23-08-2006

A planned bank holiday weekend strike at Stansted airport has been called off by unions.

Baggage handlers and check-in staff had been preparing to take industrial action over an ongoing pay dispute with Swissport, the ground handling company for airlines, including Ryanair and easyJet, at the Essex airport.

Following three days of talks, the Transport and General Workers' Union (TGWU) and GMB said that they had agreed to an improved salary deal for their members.

GMB, which represents 500 workers employed by Swissport at Stansted, said that it would recommend the new pay package offered by the company to its members.

It said Swissport had offered staff an 11 per cent pay rise over two years.

TGWU regional organiser Maureen Byrne described Swissport's offer as a "substantial improvement".

Baggage handlers had rejected an initial four per cent pay rise offered by Swissport because of its "over-complicated" nature.

The TGWU had accused Swissport of "trying to drive down costs" by "attacking" the pay of its members, claiming that staff were encouraged by their employer "to work excessive overtime to take home a decent wage".

The GMB described an earlier pay offer made by Swissport as coming with an "unacceptable string", accusing the company of attempting to "claw" back money from staff who were on sick leave.

GMB, whose members had voted nine to one in favour of a strike, had warned that the industrial action planned for the busy holiday weekend at Stansted would be "unstoppable" if unions failed to agree a pay deal with Swissport last night.

Union members had intended to hold the walkout between 05:00 BST on the morning of Saturday 26th and 08:00 BST on Sunday 27th, and between 05:00 BST on bank holiday Monday 28th and 08:00 BST on Tuesday 29th.

Meanwhile, industrial action due to affect the Gatwick Express airport service over the bank holiday was also called off yesterday.

Gatwick Express management said that the planned strike by drivers represented by the Aslef union had been suspended while a new pay offer was considered.


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