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Easter strike for baggage handlers

Baggage handlers at Stansted Airport are to strike over Easter in a row over pay, the GMB union has announced.

The move follows an overwhelming vote in favour of industrial action by 150 GMB members employed by Swissport after the union claimed that shift changes would lead to wage cuts of up to £1,000.

The GMB said strikes will be held on Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Easter Monday, threatening disruption to passengers flying on holiday for the holiday break.

GMB official Gary Pearce said: "GMB members have voted overwhelmingly for strike action and for action short of a strike.

"Up to now the company has been intent on imposing these changes without agreement and this is completely unacceptable, as this vote shows. GMB has offered several alternative shift patterns and working arrangements but the company refuses to listen so far.

"I have notified Swissport of the ballot result and I have asked them for more talks to try to avert action over these pay cuts. GMB members consider that Swissport is attempting to make savings at their expense and they are not willing to agree to this. Unless there is urgent talks and a settlement, this vote for action this will result in disruption over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

"The travelling public need to be aware that it has been this aggressive move by Swissport to cut our members' pay at a time of high inflation that has led to this strike vote. If the strike goes ahead, Swissport is entirely to blame for the disruption."

A Swissport spokesman said: "At this time we can confirm the airport will be open as normal. Passengers should travel to the airport as normal and we expect no disruption to our services.

"The decision to call industrial action comes at the end of a 90-day consultation period with employees and trade unions, relating to the change of working patterns. This change was announced back in November 2011 to protect core jobs. The change of working patterns allows a reduction of costs without the need to make people redundant.

"The current economic climate and the impact it has had on the aviation industry means that Swissport Stansted has fewer flights to service. This has resulted in a significant reduction in the company's revenue."

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