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Workers at 18 airports to stage 48-hour strike before Christmas in row over pay

More than 1,500 check-in staff, baggage handlers and cargo crew at 18 airports will strike for 48 hours just before Christmas in a long-running pay dispute.

Members of Unite employed by Swissport will walk out on December 23 and 24 at Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Bournemouth, Cardiff, Doncaster, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, Leeds/Bradford, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle, Southampton and Stansted.

Unite national officer Oliver Richardson said: "We appreciate that this is a very busy time of year at the UK's airports and that's why we are calling for the company to engage in constructive talks under the auspices of Acas to resolve this dispute. Unite's door is open 24/7 for such talks.

"Our members are only taking this industrial action as a last resort in a bid to reach a fair settlement - our members have not had a pay rise since 2014."

Unite members voted by 62.5% to reject a 4.65% three year pay deal for 2015-2017, which the union said barely kept pace with inflation.

The staff were also said to be angry that detrimental changes to terms and conditions have been linked to the pay deal.

The changes include freezing overtime payments for the foreseeable future and restructuring pay.

The news came an hour after an announcement that pilots at Virgin Atlantic had voted for industrial action short of a strike in a dispute over union recognition. Members of the PPU union will "work to contract " from December 23.

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