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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 August 2010

Airport workers win improved offer from BAA

Proposed strike action by airport workers at BAA has been called off according to Unite the Union. This follows on from what the union called "constructive talks" with BAA at ACAS.

The ballot for strike action was called following a year of pay freezes and then a 1% pay rise and a further 0.5% linked to changes in sickness payments this year.

The changes to sick pay would have seen workers lose 1,000 in a year. Workers were particularly unhappy with the original derisory pay offer after it was announced BAA has improved its financial position this year. A strike ballot returned a healthy majority in favour of action on 12 August.

Industrial action would have seen check-in staff, security personnel, engineers, firefighters and ground staff walking out. Had strike action gone ahead it would have effectively paralysed airports at Heathrow, Stansted, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Unite announced on Monday 16 August that the company has put a much improved pay offered forward which the Unite negotiating committee will be recommending to their members.

Under the new deal workers will receive a 2% pay rise and a guaranteed lump sum payment of 500. The conditions regarding changes to sickness payments have been withdrawn.

Although this is still a below inflation pay offer, in real terms a paycut, this is still a significant improvement from BAA's original position.

The very fact that BAA was forced to come up with an improved pay offer underlines the point that despite the economic crisis workers can still force concessions from the employers where they are organised in a position of industrial strength and are prepared to take decisive action.

Neil Cafferky

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