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UK airport baggage handlers call off 48-hour strike after 'improved pay offer'

A planned 48-hour pay strike by baggage handlers and check in staff at 18 airports across the UK, including including Belfast International and Belfast City, has been called off.

Members of Unite employed by Swissport were due to walk out from Friday, threatening disruption for families and other travellers leaving the UK for Christmas.

They voted for industrial action in protest at a 4.65% pay offer over three years.

The strike was called off following talks at the conciliation service Acas.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey took part in the talks and announced that the strike had been cancelled after an improved pay offer.

"I am delighted to report that we have reached an agreement which our shop stewards will recommend to our members."

Talks are continuing to try to avert strikes by British Airways cabin crew but Mr McCluskey said progress was "painfully slow".

British Airways cabin crew are due to strike on Christmas Day and Boxing Day in a separate dispute over pay. The airline said it will run a full service despite the strike.

Mr McCluskey appealed to senior management at BA to get involved in the talks. "I will make myself available 24 hours a day to try to reach an agreement, " he said.

Strikes could also spread to London Underground (LU) in the New Year because of a long-running dispute over jobs, it was warned.

Thousands of rail and Post Office workers continued to take industrial action today, with more walkouts planned.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Southern Railway completed a 48-hour stoppage in a long-running row over the role of conductors.

Coupled with a continuing ban on overtime by drivers in Aslef, the action caused fresh chaos for Southern's passengers, with services delayed or cancelled.

Post Office workers in the Communication Workers Union remained on strike in a dispute over jobs, pensions and branch closures.

The RMT said it was actively considering strikes on LU in protest at a programme of savings which it said had led to 800 job losses.

The RMT reacted angrily to reports that the Prime Minister told a meeting of Conservative MPs in constituencies served by Southern that other train operators should run longer trains, and more buses should be laid on, to compensate for the disruption passengers have faced for months.

British Airways plans a full service on Christmas Day and Boxing Day despite a planned cabin crew strike over pay
British Airways plans a full service on Christmas Day and Boxing Day despite a planned cabin crew strike over pay

The CWU called for the board of the Post Office to be held accountable for their decisions that have led to the ongoing dispute.

General secretary Dave Ward said: "It is totally unacceptable that board members, earning hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money are not facing up to the media in this dispute."

The Post Office said 35 branches were closed by the strike today, one fewer than on Monday.

All branches will be operating as usual on Wednesday - the last recommended day for first class post - Thursday and Friday, but more closures are expected on Christmas Eve during another strike.

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