Published on Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Baggage handlers threaten Easter holiday chaos

Baggage handlers are threatening to disrupt thousands of family holidays by going out on strike over the Easter weekend after management announced changes to their shift patterns.

The GMB union is balloting 150 members who are employed by Swissport as baggage handlers at Stansted Airport to see if they are prepared to walk out over the changes.

The result of the ballot will be announced on March 29 and if members vote for industrial action the union says this could result in disruption over the Easter weekend.

GMB says the changes imposed by Swissport to shift patterns will cost each of its members up to £1,000 a year. The changes will also require baggage handlers to travel to work an additional 13 times a year, leading to increased transport and childcare costs, it says.

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

"The company is intent on imposing these changes without agreement and this is completely unacceptable."

Swissport handles 11 airlines at Stansted, including Monarch, Ryanair and Thomson Airways.
"Swissport claim they have lost work on the Ryanair contact at the airport. GMB baggage handlers have seen no evidence of this," added Pearce.

"Swissport also claim that they are losing money on the contract. GMB has asked to see the evidence to confirm this but Swissport have refused to comply, leading members to question if what they are being told is true."

TravelMole is waiting for a comment from Swissport.

By Linsey McNeill

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