Threat of airports strike called off

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.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before