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Union and BAA in talks to avoid airport strike

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by Kay Mitchell
’Union

Talks are ongoing between airports operator BAA and the Unite union to try to avoid strike action which could see six UK airports shut down over the crucial bank holiday period.

Face-to-face talks between the two parties are taking place at the central London offices of the conciliation service ACAS and comes after BAA voted in favour of strike action last week.

BAA, which is majority owned by Spain’s Ferrovial, owns six airports: Heathrow, Stansted, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Southampton.

These airports would have to close on any strike days, as crucial staff including fire-fighters, security staff and ground staff at airports, would take part.

Approximately 350,000 passengers per day travel through the six airports and industrial action would affect more than 200 airlines.

However, BAA has today said it hoped to “quickly conclude an agreement, in the interests of the travelling public, our airlines and our staff”.

Meanwhile, Brian Boyd of Unite said: “We’re trying to do everything we possibly can to avert [disruption to passengers] but the company’s got a major role to play in the resolution of this dispute. It has to give us something better than what we’ve had up to now and the company knows that.”

Walkouts could commence as early as 23 August if there is no resolution today. However, the union does have to give the company seven days’ notice so many analysts believe Unite could stage a walkout for the August Bank Holiday weekend – which is set to cause travel chaos.

The vote for strike action comes as union members are in a dispute over pay. The union has already described BAA’s offer as “measly” and is seeking a rise nearer to 2.5% rather than the 1% offer already tabled.

BAA staff agreed to a pay freeze last year. However, the company argues its offer is a generous one – particularly after a year that has seen a slump in passengers following the global recession, and more recently, the volcanic ash cloud disruption.

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News posted: August 16, 2010

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