ABOUT 1,000 baggage handlers and check-in staff at Heathrow were due to strike this weekend. Some 90 percent of the workers at Swissport UK and Swissport Cargo, who handle baggage for several major airlines, have voted for action. The workers, who are in the TGWU union, planned their first strike for this Sunday, 2 November.
There are two issues behind the dispute. One is that the workers want their pay claim settled. They have not had their pay increased in 18 months. The other is a personnel manager who refuses to deal with the union. Behind these issues is the constant threat that the 'Ryan Air model' of low pay and insecure jobs will be forced on all airport workers.
If the Swissport workers do strike, the key question will be whether workers at other ground handling agencies take on the strikers' work or show solidarity.
Talks between the union and management were taking place as Socialist Worker went to press.