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Cath Everett

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Pay offer halts proposed BAA strike

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Money talks: the Unite union has called off proposed industrial action by thousands of airport workers that would have crippled six UK airports, after operator BAA agreed to a “much improved” pay offer.
 

The agreement was reached last night after hours of fraught negotiations mediated by the conciliation service, Acas. Unite intends to recommend that the deal be accepted by the 6,000 of its members that work for BAA at Heathrow, Stansted, Southampton, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports. Together the facilities handle more than 300,000 passengers each day.
 
The move came after 74.1% of the 3,000 workers that took up the Unite ballot voted to strike last week over the airport operator’s proposed 1% pay increase. Staff, which included security personnel, engineers and firefighters, were also offered a further 0.5% if they accepted changes to sickness arrangements.
 
Unite’s national officer Brian Boyd said last night: “Unite came to these negotiations with a strong mandate for industrial action. In today’s negotiations between Unite and BAA, the assistance of Acas has been constructive and we are pleased to announce that we are calling off strike action at BAA’s six airports.”
 
Further details will be announced after BAA staff had been advised of the improved offer, he added.
 
BAA said in a statement: “We are pleased that the basis of an agreement has been reached on pay, that is fair to staff but which also reflects the difficult economic climate.”
 
The operator is believed to have come under pressure from airlines to settle the dispute, which comes after a terrible year for aviation following the volcanic ash cloud crisis in April.
 
Unite, on the other hand, was likewise pressurised to settle by Charlie Whelan, its political director, in order to avoid the embarrassment of strike action taking place in the run-up to the Labour leadership context next month.

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