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EDITIONS
Monday, 11 November, 2002, 15:50 GMT
Airport workers vote to strike
Planes at Heathrow
Hundreds of flights could be disrupted
Firefighters and security staff at seven UK airports have announced plans for six one-day strikes, which would hit Christmas travellers hard.

The Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) met on Monday and agreed to industrial action.

Strike Dates
28 November
2 December
10 December
15 December
23 December
2 January
The walk-out by airport firefighters, security guards and other employees would affect Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Southampton, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh airports.

Two of the dates chosen - 23 December and 2 January - are among the most popular for travellers flying in or out of the UK for the festive period.

Last month TGWU members voted in favour of a walk-out in "sheer frustration" at the pay offer put forward by their employers, the British Airports Authority (BAA).

The planned airport strikes, while including firefighters, are unrelated to the series of general fire service strikes which are due to begin on Wednesday.

BAA said the deal amounted to 6.3% over two years and was reasonable given the present economic difficulties facing the aviation industry.

But the TGWU's national secretary for aviation, Tim Lyle, said: "The strikes will be organised on the basis that each and every airport will strike simultaneously.


The airports would not be able to operate on strike days because of the lack of fire cover.

Tim Lyle
Union spokesman

"The airports would not be able to operate on strike days because of the lack of fire cover."

The two-year deal would see staff receiving 1.7% in the first year, with 150 extra backdated to last April and a further 150 added from next January, according to the TGWU.

The rest would be made up in the second year.

The union has not revealed how much it is seeking for members, but it says the ball is now firmly in BAA's court to come up with a better offer.

Negotiated settlement

A TGWU spokesman said 1.7% was "hardly fair".

"People accepted the second year of the offer is reasonably OK, but that's not taking into account the pressures our members are under.

"Given the increasing profits BAA is making, plus heightened security checks, levels of stress and responsibility falling on our staff, we deserve more than that."

The union said the series of strike dates had not been co-ordinated to disrupt Christmas and New Year holiday travel.

It insisted it had given BAA long-term warning to encourage management to return to the negotiating table.

"We want a negotiated settlement," said the spokesman.

Meanwhile the air traffic controllers' union Prospect is expected to ballot its members on industrial action in protest at bonuses paid to two executives.

So far the union is suggesting controllers only stop work for just 15 minutes, but even that would be enough to cause huge airport delays.

Its delegates voted this weekend to ballot around 2,000 air traffic controllers.

'Totally inappropriate'

Prospect's national officer, David Luxton, told BBC News Online his members had called the stoppage to register their frustration at bonuses of 215,000 and 62,000 paid to two directors of the National Air Traffic Services (Nats).

He said: "Rather than writing letters of protest, our members wanted a way individuals could register their feelings about the bonuses.

"A 15 minute stoppage will cause disproportionate disruption, but that is not the aim of the action."

Gatwick Airport
Gatwick would be affected
If the go-ahead was given for stoppages, the union would have to give its employers seven days' notice of its intention to strike.

BBC Transport Reporter Tom Symonds said the strike would allow union members to cause disruption to a whole day's flight schedules for the loss of just 15 minutes' pay.

Carriers would be forced to hold back flights, or keep planes in the air for an extra 15 minutes during the stoppage.

Aircraft would not be allowed to take off, land, or enter UK airspace during the strike, and most schedules would be put out for about an hour for most of the day.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's John Moylan
"Airports can not operate without a fire service"
The TGWU's National Officer Tim Lyle
"On the days that we will take strike action the airports will close"
Martin Salter, Labour MP
"They've joined the ranks of the privatised fat cats"

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Airport strikes
Are workers right to walk out at Christmas?
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