Travel threat lifted as baggage handlers’ strike called off

Members of Unite employed by Swissport were due to walk out from Friday
Members of Unite employed by Swissport were due to walk out from Friday

The threat to travellers planning to fly into Belfast’s two airports over the Christmas holidays has been lifted with the suspension of proposed strike action by baggage handlers.

The 48-hour pay strike by baggage handlers and check-in staff at 18 airports including Belfast International and Belfast City has been called off after talks at conciliation service ACAS.

Members of Unite employed by Swissport were due to walk out from Friday, threatening disruption for families and other travellers leaving the UK for Christmas.

They voted for industrial action in protest at a 4.65% pay offer over three years.

The strike was called off following talks at the conciliation service Acas

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey took part in the talks and announced that the strike had been cancelled after an improved pay offer.

“I am delighted to report that we have reached an agreement which our shop stewards will recommend to our members.”

Talks are continuing to try to avert strikes by British Airways cabin crew but Mr McCluskey said progress was “painfully slow”.

British Airways cabin crew are due to strike on Christmas Day and Boxing Day in a separate dispute over pay. The airline said it will run a full service despite the strike.

Mr McCluskey appealed to senior management at BA to get involved in the talks. “I will make myself available 24 hours a day to try to reach an agreement, “ he said.

Meanwhile holiday postal services are still under threat from action by the CWU which called for the board of the Post Office to be held accountable for their decisions that have led to an ongoing dispute.

General secretary Dave Ward said: “It is totally unacceptable that board members, earning hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money are not facing up to the media in this dispute.”

The Post Office said 35 branches were closed by the strike on Tuesday, one fewer than on Monday.

All branches will be operating as usual on Wednesday - the last recommended day for first class post - Thursday and Friday, but more closures are expected on Christmas Eve during another strike.