Unions call off Stansted strike

Travellers have been spared extra disruption at two of Britain’s busiest airports over the Bank Holiday weekend after unions called off planned strikes.

Travellers have been spared extra disruption at two of Britain’s busiest airports over the Bank Holiday weekend after unions called off planned strikes.

Baggage handlers and check-in staff had been poised to take industrial action in a row over pay with Swissport, the ground-handling agent for airlines at Stansted Airport in Essex.

But after three days of talks between Swissport and the TGWU and GMB unions, both sides agreed last night on an improved salary deal.

Planned strikes on the Gatwick Express airport train service over the Bank Holiday weekend were also suspended yesterday.

The GMB, which had predicted flights would be “severely disrupted” by the walkouts at Stansted, said Swissport’s improved offer represented a pay increase of up to 11% over two years.

The GMB and TGWU both said they had suspended strikes pending a ballot of their members over the proposed settlement.

Gary Pearce, GMB regional organiser, said: “We welcome this offer from the company, which we are recommending to our members, and we are suspending the action over the Bank Holiday.”

Maureen Byrne, TGWU regional industrial organiser, said Swissport’s new offer was a “substantial improvement”.

The talks followed an official strike ballot of 500 GMB members employed by Swissport who rejected a pay offer and voted by three to one for industrial action.

The strike at Stansted had been scheduled to begin at 5am on Saturday and continue until 8am the following day, and again from 5am on Bank Holiday Monday until 8am on Tuesday.

The workers provide ground-handling services, including check-in and baggage handling for about 80% of the passengers who use London Stansted Airport, the union said.

Swissport holds the ground-handling contracts for Ryanair and easyJet and a number of the holiday charter airlines who use Stansted.

Meanwhile, Gatwick Express management said the planned strikes by train drivers on August 25 and 29 and September 8 had been suspended while a new pay offer was considered.

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