Union and BAA meet to avert August strikes

Airports operator BAA and union Unite will meet for talks today aimed at averting a strike over August Bank Holiday that would shut Heathrow, Stansted and the major Scottish airports.

Unite officials are due to decide the date and duration of threatened stoppages by more than 6,000 firefighters, security staff and other airport workers today, following a three-to-one ballot vote to strike.

Walk outs would halt 2,500 flights a day and hit more than 200,000 passengers.

The dispute over pay has seen Unite members reject a 1% increase following a wage freeze last year. BAA argues airport traffic has fallen because of the recession and points out half the affected staff did not vote in the ballot. However, Heathrow recorded its busiest-ever month in July.

Talks will convene at conciliation service Acas in London with the union saying “it would not take much” to achieve a settlement.

A similar threat to strike two years ago was averted by a last-minute deal.

Passengers booked to and from affected airports – Heathrow, Stansted, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Southampton – should wait until it’s clear which flights may be affected before checking with airlines on what to do.

Unite has shown a reluctance to target Bank Holiday travel in the lengthy and still unresolved dispute between British Airways and cabin crew.

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