Airport staff decides for strike action in pay dispute

The check-in staff and baggage handlers at the UK’s four busiest airports have voted for strike action in a dispute over pay, Travel Weekly has reported.

Staff and workers at the ground handling company, Swissport, based at Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester and Stansted, have voted in favour of strike action. A poll by Unite union members has seen 94 percent voting in favour of strike action, based on a turnout of 50.5 percent.

Following the vote, the company has called for an urgent meeting with the Unite union, which is taking place today.

Unite national officer, Oliver Richardson, said: ‘In the light of this overwhelming mandate for action, Swissport has requested talks which we are happy to attend so we can try to resolve this matter.

‘The dispute centres on the company’s decision to freeze workers pay for eighteen months, from April 2012 through to October 2013, followed by a below-inflation increase of just 2.5 percent.

‘Our members are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living,’ he said, adding that the union believes Swissport is failing to recognise the contribution that its staff members are making to the success of the company.

‘We hope that over the coming days we will be able to thrash out a deal with the company but this will depend on whether the company is prepared to move on from its current position on pay,’ said Richardson.

Swissport International Limited provides ground services for around 118 million passengers and handles 3.5 million tons of cargo a year on behalf of some 650 client-companies in the aviation sector. With a workforce of around 40,000 personnel, Swissport is active at 181 stations in 37 countries across five continents.

In the UK, Swissport’s clients include Ryanair, Thomas Cook and Thomson at Stansted; Monarch, Thomson, Thomas Cook, Virgin Atlantic and Emirates at Manchester; Monarch, Thomson, Thomas Cook, Virgin and British Airways at Gatwick and Virgin at Heathrow.