AROUND 1,500 airport staff at London's key airports have voted nine to one in favour of strikes this summer. The staff work for Aviance, which deals with many airlines, including Virgin Atlantic, Monarch, Singapore Airlines and Easyjet. Some 80 percent of their work is at Heathrow and Gatwick airports.
The workers have already rejected a 1.5 percent pay offer coupled with a one-off £150 payment. Ed Blisset, an organiser for the workers' GMB union, told Socialist Worker, 'This is much wider than just baggage handlers. This dispute also involves ground service staff and check-in agents as well as load controllers. Check-in staff in London get between £15,000 and £16,000 a year. Load controllers and baggage handlers get between £17,000 and £18,000, so this is a low paid workforce. They are supposed to work a 37 and a half hour week, but often people end up working 50 or even 60 hours a week to make ends meet.'
The union has said if no acceptable offer is made then one-day strikes will be held through August. Members are now balloting on a slightly increased offer from Aviance. The offer has not been recommended by the workers' GMB union officials. 'We are disappointed that the company has not been able to make a substantial increase,' said GMB organiser Ed Blisset.
BAGGAGE handlers working for Servisair at Scottish airports have won a better pay rise after threatening to strike. The 200 workers are employed at Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
They were offered 2 percent. Once a strike ballot was discussed the offer rose to 10 percent over two years.
Manchester: protest over sackings
WORKERS AT Manchester airport staged a two-hour strike last Saturday. The work stoppage was organised by TGWU union members. It is part of the continuing dispute at the airport over the sacking of 21 security workers and cuts to terms and conditions.
The airport is controlled by several local authorities, and many of them are New Labour run. Earlier in the year Manchester airport bosses cut pay and conditions for over 350 security staff. That sparked solid strike action in April and May. Airport bosses succeeded in getting most of the staff to sign the new contracts after repeated threats to sack workers.
But 21 workers who could not accept the new contracts were then sacked. More strikes are planned on 30 July and 3 August.
Send messages of support and donations to TGWU, Merchants Quay, Salford. Fax 0161 872 6067.