Baggage handlers call off airport strikes

Planned strikes by airport workers that would have caused travel misery over the bank holiday period were called off today.

The dispute involved airport services business Swissport, and cabin staff and baggage handlers who are members of the Unite and GMB unions. It would have affected Gatwick, Stansted and Manchester airports.

After hours of talks at conciliation service Acas, both unions said today that they had suspended the planned strikes.

But flights at Stansted could still be affected as a separate GMB dispute at Stansted involving more than 30 security scanners employed by Airport Services is still due to go ahead on bank holiday Monday.

The Swissport dispute has involved pay, with both the GMB and Unite now putting a new, improved offer to their members.

Before the breakthrough at Acas, air passengers were facing 24-hour strikes at Gatwick and Stansted on bank holiday Monday and on Friday August 29 as well as 24-hour strikes at Manchester on Wednesday August 27 and Monday September 1.

Gary Pearce of the GMB said: "As a result of today's talks at Acas between the unions and Swissport we have a new improved offer to put to our members.

"Because of the improved offer all planned industrial action is suspended until we get the reaction of the members.

"This does not affect the industrial action for the scanner workers who are employed by Airport Services."

A spokesman for Unite said: "We have suspended the industrial action. After 12 hours of talks at Acas we now have a revised offer in which improvements have been made and we will now ballot our members."