Threat of airports strike called off
Tuesday 17 August 2010
The threat of strikes by thousands of airport workers which could have caused travel chaos for holidaymakers was averted last night.
Talks between leaders of the Unite union and bosses from the airport operator BAA led to a new pay offer which will be recommended for acceptance. Unite said a "much improved" offer had been tabled and workers at Heathrow, Stansted, Southampton, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports will be urged to accept the deal.
The meeting, which was chaired by the conciliation service Acas, was held at an undisclosed location and followed a vote by Unite members in favour of industrial action in protest at a 1 per cent pay offer.
Unite said its members had accepted a wage freeze last year and co-operated with changes to their pension scheme, so deserved a bigger pay rise. Ferrovial, the Spanish owners of BAA, had offered an additional 0.5 per cent, but this was conditional on changes to the firm's sickness agreement, said the union. Around half of the 6,000 workers balloted by Unite voted, with 74.1 per cent of those who did opting for strike action.
Last night, Unite's national officer Brian Boyd said BAA had tabled a "much improved" offer and workers at the airports would be urged to accept the deal. "Details of the agreement will be made public once BAA staff have been advised of the improved offer," he added. Peter Harwood, chief conciliator at Acas, said the talks had been "challenging" but was pleased that the basis of a deal had been agreed.
The Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said: "Strike action over a bank holiday would have been hugely damaging to the country. Passengers will be relieved that they are now able to go on holiday without the fear of disruption from strikes."
In a statement a spokesman for BAA said: "We are pleased that the basis of an agreement has been reached on pay, that is fair to staff but which also reflects the difficult economic climate." Terry Morgan, of BAA, added: "I think it's a deal that is a fair reward for our staff, but it's also a deal that the company can afford."
If the strike had gone ahead over the August bank holiday, it would almost certainly have closed all six airports because aviation safety rules do not allow partial closures.
Meanwhile, thousands of British Airways check-in workers and other ground staff will start voting today on whether to accept savings and job losses as part of the airline's plans to cut costs. The GMB union and Unite reached agreement in principle with BA regarding staffing and working arrangements and will recommend that around 3,000 accept the deal, which involves 500 voluntary job losses, with 200 staff having already left, and a one-year pay freeze.
The long-running BA cabin crew dispute remains deadlocked, with further talks expected this week but with little sign of a breakthrough.
BAA's largest customer remains at an impasse with Unite in its dispute over pay and conditions for cabin crew members, who have already staged 22 days of strikes this year with the support of at least 6,300 flight attendants.
Willie Walsh, BA's combative chief executive, has an army of replacement staff on standby and with the union fearing a media backlash it is unlikely to announce further action during the summer.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas
Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new
TV presenter Fiona Bruce seemed a bit startled by the find during the filming of Antiques Roadshow
Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'
- 2 Ebola outbreak: What is bushmeat – and is it to blame for the disease that has killed thousands?
- 4 Russell Brand might seem like a sexy revolutionary worth getting behind, but he will only fail his fans
- 5 Michael McIntyre walks off stage after woman in the front row uses her phone
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Sorry Judy Finnigan – Ched Evans is no less sickening than an alleyway rapist
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Workers 'could be forced to pay £5 a week' to get benefits
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'
£30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...
£13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...