Airport strike called off

A strike that would have closed Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and other airports on Monday has been called off.

Unions and airport operator BAA agreed to fresh negotiations over company plans to close a final-salary pension scheme during talks on New Year’s Eve and officials called off the 24-hour stoppage by firefighters, security staff and other workers planned on January 7.

The two sides are due to meet again on Friday and a deal will be put to union representatives.

Walk-outs remain scheduled for 24 hours on January 14 and 48 hours from January 17, but are unlikely to go ahead unless there is a fresh breakdown.

Officials of the union Unite said the strike threat had stopped BAA closing the pension scheme without negotiation. BAA said agreement had been reached in principle.

A separate strike by Virgin Atlantic crew later this month appears likely to go ahead after Virgin chairman Sir Richard Branson told staff who consider themselves underpaid to find jobs with other airlines. “More pay than Virgin atlantic can afford may be critical to your lifestyle,” Branson wrote in a letter to staff. “If that is the case, you should consider working elsewhere.”

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