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Last Updated: Friday, 21 December 2007, 15:52 GMT
Airport workers vote for strikes
Stansted Airport
Stansted is one of the airports to be affected by strike action
Some of Britain's busiest airports are set to be disrupted after union members at BAA voted for strike action over plans to change pension rights.

The Unite union has called 24-hour strikes starting at 0600 GMT on 7 and 14 January and a 48-hour strike starting at 0600 GMT on 17 January.

BAA said it would continue discussions and asked for customers' understanding.

The strikes will take place at all of BAA's seven UK airports, including Heathrow, Gatwick and Edinburgh.

The company, which also operates Stansted, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton airports, said that 1.3 million passengers would be impacted if the strikes went ahead.

"We continue to believe that industrial action is unnecessary, as none of our existing employees will be affected by the changes to our pension arrangements," a BAA spokesman said.

"However, we do recognise that there are important concerns and these will continue to be addressed through discussions with the unions and staff."

Spanish owner

Unite represents about 6,000 airport workers employed by BAA, including firefighters and security staff, without whom the airports cannot operate.

It is not a UK management decision but a decision taken in Spain that I do not believe has the backing of the UK management team
Brendan Gold, Unite

The union said 1,946 members had voted to strike, with 1,108 voting against direct action.

However BAA said that according to its figures this represented only a 53% turnout of union members, with only 36% of Unite members on its staff voting for the walk-outs.

The workers are protesting against the company's plans to close the final salary pension scheme to new employees.

Unite's national aviation officer Brendan Gold blamed BAA's Spanish owner Ferrovial for the decision.

"It is not a UK management decision but a decision taken in Spain that I do not believe has the backing of the UK management team," he said.

HAVE YOUR SAY
I think the decision to stage these strikes is appalling and can only backfire on the workers themselves.
Rob, Bournemouth

The date of the first strike, 7 January, is the day when rules on the amount of permitted carry-on baggage are due to change, which was already expected to cause some confusion in airports.

Passengers will be allowed two items of carry-on baggage, but only if they are at an airport that has bought a new type of 3D scanner.

On Thursday, cabin crew at Virgin Atlantic announced they would be calling two 48-hour strikes in January in a dispute over pay.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Union leader Brendan Gold announces the strike action



SEE ALSO
Virgin Atlantic crews to strike
20 Dec 07 |  Business
Airport staff to vote on strike
23 Nov 07 |  Business

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