‘Christmas of discontent’ fear as strike threats loom

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Pilots, postal workers and airport staff are among workers planning to take industrial action in a Christmas of discontent.

A dispute between Southern Railway and train drivers has already brought a large portion of the travel network to a standstill this December, but action from other industries is set to cause further disruption.

British Airways cabin crew are to strike on Christmas Day and Boxing Day over a pay row and Virgin Atlantic pilots will take industrial action over union recognition.

And a long-running pay dispute means more than 1,500 check-in staff, baggage handlers and cargo crew at 18 airports will strike for 48 hours just before Christmas.

Post Office workers will strike next week, including on Christmas Eve, after their union said an offer it made to resolve a row over jobs, pensions and closures was rejected.

BA said it was “appalled” that around 4,500 cabin crew represented by the Unite union would strike over the festive season and vowed to ensure passengers reach their destinations.

Virgin pilots have not planned a fully-fledged strike but will work “strictly to contract” with a removal of “goodwill” from December 23, their PPU union said.

Postal workers from the Communication Workers Union will strike for five days, including three days of walkouts by staff in Crown offices - larger branches typically in high streets.

The union is locked in a bitter row over job losses, the closure of a final salary pension scheme and the closure of Crown Offices, with services handed to firms such as WH Smith.

Unite airport staff employed by Swissport will walk out on December 23 and 24 at Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Bournemouth, Cardiff, Doncaster, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, Leeds/Bradford, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle, Southampton and Stansted.

Unite national officer Oliver Richardson said: “Our members are only taking this industrial action as a last resort in a bid to reach a fair settlement - our members have not had a pay rise since 2014.”