About 500 GMB and T&G union members, working for Swissport at Stansted airport were due to strike this weekend.
The check-in staff and baggage handlers rejected a pay offer by nine to one and voted three to one to take industrial action.
Strike action was due from 5am on Saturday until 8am the next day, and again from 5am on August Bank Holiday Monday until 8am the following day.
Workers submitted a pay claim in April, including calls for a premium rate for Sunday working in addition to a “substantial” pay review.
Employers Swissport had not met the claim for Sunday premiums and the pay offer they had put on the table included “unacceptable” strings. The workers provide ground-handling services like check-in and baggage handling for about 80 percent of the passengers who use London Stansted airport.
GMB officer Gary Pearce said, “Our members at Stansted deeply regret having to take this type of action but because of the company’s action have been left with no alternative.”
“GMB members who provide essential services to airlines that are very profitable are facing huge increases in the cost of living and need a decent pay rise.”
T&G regional industrial organiser Maureen Byrne said the company was trying to drive down costs by attacking workers’ pay.
She said, “We ask passengers to think of the men and women who keep the airport running, whatever the pressures on them.”
Talks were continuing at the arbitration service Acas as Socialist Worker went to press.
Stop press (23 August): strike suspended
The planned bank holiday strike has been suspended pending the outcome of consultation of the members of a new offer of 11% over two years.
Gary Pearce, GMB Organiser, said 'GMB is recommending that our members accept the new pay offer which came out of three days of hard negotiations. Swissport have done the right thing in making this offer and I think GMB members will recognise that.'