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Two 48-hour strikes by airport workers could ruin the holiday getaway

Swissport baggage handlers and BA's mixed fleet cabin crew row over pay is set to disrupt plans for travellers this Christmas

(Image: British Airways)

Strike action by airport workers is set to ruin the mass holiday getaway this week.

Baggage handlers at Swissport and cabin crew at British Airways (BA) are set to walkout in long-running disputes over pay, both which would affect services at Heathrow Airport

Baggage handlers are due to strike over two days, Friday (December 23) and Christmas Eve (December 24), in the run-up to Christmas.

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Meanwhile, BAs' mixed fleet crew have proposed industrial action over Christmas Day and Boxing Day, but talks have resumed with ACAS in the hope of resolving the problem.

Swissport said they were disappointed to learn of the impending strike action but will resume talks with Unite and ACAS, aimed at ending the dispute, on Tuesday (December 20).

Baggage reclaim area at Heathrow Airport

A spokesman for Swissport said: “This is another in a series of recent examples where a minority of trade union members are acting in a cynical fashion to disrupt the travel plans of the public and attempt to hold employers to ransom, without giving thought to the long term job security of staff, and the commercial viability of employers.

"We operate in a very low margin and highly competitive sector and our overall pay and conditions already compare favourably with our competitors.

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"We therefore believe the offer already made is very reasonable and would have been welcomed by the majority of our staff.

"We remain committed to resolving this matter as soon as possible while protecting the interests of our customers, airline passengers and ultimately our staff.”

An offer of an increase of 4.65% on current basic rates of pay was rejected by a majority of 296.

Travellers could face queues as two strikes could go ahead over the Christmas period

Meanwhile BA, said it plans to to operate a full schedule on both days.

Alex Cruz, British Airways CEO and chairman, said: "We are making sure that this attempt to ruin Christmas for thousands of our customers fails.

"Over the weekend we have been working on detailed contingency plans to ensure that we are able to operate our normal flight programme from all our airports on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

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"We urge Unite to abandon this strike call, which is serving only to cause anxiety among our Mixed Fleet cabin crew colleagues. Our Mixed Fleet crew do a tremendous job for our customers. They earn a competitive salary package, with all crew working full-time receiving a minimum of £21,000 a year. We are seeking to improve this package and we encourage Unite to start a positive dialogue with us about our proposals.

"We continue to seek a non-disruptive solution to issues of concern to our Mixed Fleet colleagues. That is why we initiated the talks at the conciliation service ACAS today."

The British Airways passenger plane was coming in from Norway when it was targeted(Image: Nick Morrish/British Airways)

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "The wages British Airways quote are misleading, new entrants to ‘mixed fleet’ are paid a basic of £12,192 per annum. The food allowance that pilots receive is 15 per cent more than that of the young women and men who make up ‘mixed fleet’ cabin crew.

“Our young members deserve credit for standing up for themselves against a corporate giant such as British Airways in their fight for a living wage. They are entitled to have aspirations and entitled to have a decent standard of living.

“We implore British Airways to drop its aggressive stance, to stop with the misleading commentary and genuinely negotiate. That is the only way to reach a resolution to this dispute."

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Post Office workers have begun a five day walkout in protest over job losses, the closure of a final salary pension scheme and the franchising of Crown Post Offices.

Around 3,500 members of the Communication Workers Union began strike action on Monday (December 19).

The action will impact under 300 branches and The Royal Mail has said "there will be little or no impact on Royal Mail" and "deliveries will carry on as normal."

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