Travelling public face more flight disruption

More passenger flight disruption could be on the way after the Unite union announced it was balloting 6,000 members for strike action at BAA's six UK airports in a dispute over pay.

Already in a long-running cabin crew dispute with British Airways, Unite said it had given airport operator BAA seven days' notice of its intention to hold a strike ballot.

BAA runs Heathrow, Stansted, Southampton, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen airports.

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The Unite members involved include security staff, engineers, firefighters and support staff.

Unite said yesterday that BAA staff had already accepted a pay freeze in 2009. It added that, for this year, the company had offered staff a one per cent pay increase, plus 0.5 per cent which was conditional on changes to the sickness agreement.

Unite is also unhappy about the situation regarding a performance-related bonus.

The union's national officer for civil aviation, Brendan Gold, said: "Unite and BAA have been in talks for months and we are prepared to continue talking.

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"A negotiated agreement can be reached if the company is prepared to be fairer and more realistic.

"BAA staff have already accepted a pay freeze in 2009 to help the company but they are not prepared to accept such a paltry offer this year."

The strike ballot will open next Friday, July 23, and will close on August 12.

A BAA spokesman said: "We are disappointed that Unite is to ballot members across its UK airports for strike action.

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"During recent discussions with Unite, we proposed a conditional 1.5 per cent pay increase. We believe this to be a reasonable offer at a time when BAA and its airline customers are seeing a decline in passengers due to the impacts of recession and volcanic ash.

"We regret Unite's decision, which will cause unnecessary concern for millions of our passengers and damage Britain's reputation around the world."

Another union, Prospect, which represents airport managerial, technical and support staff, has also informed BAA of its intention "to ballot on strike action and action short of a strike in seven days' time".