Baggage handlers at Stansted are balloting on strike action that could see a walk out over the Easter bank holiday.

The 150 Swissport staff, members of the GMB union, have begun a ballot over pay cuts attached to changed rosters after the union issued formal notice to the company.

The ballot result will be announced next Thursday March 29, giving the GMB the option of calling a strike from Good Friday (April 6) the following week.

UK strike laws require four weeks’ notice of a ballot on industrial action and seven days’ notice of a strike following the ballot result.

The GMB says Swissport wants to cut baggage handlers’ pay by up to £1,000 a year.

GMB organiser Gary Pearce said: “GMB shop stewards have been meeting with Swissport since January. The GMB has offered alternative shift patterns and working arrangements, but the company refuses to listen.

“The company is intent on imposing changes without agreement and this is unacceptable.”

Pearce dismissed claims that Swissport had lost work with Ryanair at the airport and is losing money at Stansted. He said the union had requested evidence of this.

No one from Swissport was available to comment and Stansted airport declined to say anything. However, a source suggested the ground-handling company would await the ballot result before making a statement and said the baggage handlers were already working new rosters.

In a statement, the GMB said: “Members consider Swissport is attempting to make savings at their expense. If they vote for action this could result in disruption over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.”

A GMB spokeswoman confirmed the union gave notice of the ballot within the legal timeframe after its statement on Tuesday said the union “is to ballot” members. This would make a strike at Easter in breach of the law.