Strike action suspended by baggage-handlers at Belfast City Airport

Baggage-handlers at Belfast City Airport have suspended planned strike action following the outcome of a review. Unite members at Swissport had been due to begin industrial action yesterday. Picture by Arthur Allison

BAGGAGE-handlers at Belfast City Airport have suspended planned strike action for two weeks pending the outcome of a review.

Last month 60 per cent of Unite members working at Swissport voted in favour of strike action, in protest against the management's dismissal of a union representative. The union then later serviced notice to Swissport of the times and dates of planned flash stoppages by employees, including baggage-handlers, the first of those listed as yesterday, October 23.

At the time the union claimed it had been left with "no alternative" after Swissport failed to take the concerns of the workforce seriously.

The proposed strike was suspended after last minute talks with Swissport management.

Speaking on Monday after the discussions Unite regional industrial officer, George Brash said the industrial action had been suspended after the Swissport committed to an independent industrial relations audit and to review human resource processes.

The planned action had included flash stoppages.

“Today for the first time, real progress has been made and it is clear that management now recognise the determination of their workforce to defend their trade union and their workplace representative who was dismissed by management last month."

“Swissport management has committed to review their human resources processes in relation to the case and have accepted to conduct an audit of industrial relations at the site with the independent Labour Relations Agency.

“In order to avoid any unnecessary disruption to services at Belfast City Airport and to the travelling public, Unite has agreed to suspend our planned action for two weeks pending the results of those review processes”, Mr Brash added.

The aviation ground services also confirmed strike action has been averted.

"Swissport are able to confirm that following extensive talks held this morning with representatives of the Unite Union, the proposed industrial action at Belfast City Airport has been suspended pending further discussions," a company statement read.

Swissport employs around 62,000 people worldwide and is active at more than 280 stations in 48 countries across five continents. The company employs around 150 people at Belfast City Airport.

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