Baggage handlers' strike threatens Gatwick chaos

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of baggage handlers and maintenance workers at Gatwick Airport are to strike on Saturday in a row over workloads, threatening travel chaos, it was announced today.

Hundreds of baggage handlers and maintenance workers at Gatwick Airport are to strike on Saturday in a row over workloads, threatening travel chaos, it was announced today.

Members of the Transport and General Workers' Union employed by Servisair will also strike on September 30 if the dispute is not settled.

The two stoppages were announced after talks involving the conciliation service Acas failed to break the deadlock.

The TGWU said a row over increased workloads on baggage and cargo handlers, loaders and maintenance staff worsened when a senior union shop steward was "victimised" and suspended.

Almost 600 workers overwhelmingly backed industrial action in a ballot.

TGWU official Madeleine Richards said: "Workers are determined to protect their senior steward and to ensure justice. They have voted to strike because they believe their representative is facing trumped-up charges."

The union said industrial relations at Servisair's operations at Gatwick have been strained over the summer.

The strikes are due to start at 3am on both days.

* Workers who refuel aircraft for dozens of airlines at Heathrow, including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Qantas, are set to walk out for 48 hours from Friday in a separate row over pay.

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