Christmas chaos expected at UK airports as Virgin pilots take industrial action

first_imgVirgin Atlantic and British Airways planes More misery is on the way for travellers this Christmas after Virgin Atlantic pilots voted to take industrial action and a separate dispute saw 1,500 airport baggage handlers voting to strike.Check-in staff, baggage handlers and cargo crew at 18 airports will strike for 48 hours just before Christmas in a long-running pay dispute.Members of Unite 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. Passengers queue to board a Gatwick Express service at Victoria during a week of strike action on Southern rail servicesCredit:EPA A post office sign British Airways passengers face disruption to flights over Christmas and the New Year after cabin crew voted overwhelmingly in favour of strikesCredit:Ian Waldie/Getty Images Passengers queue to board a Gatwick Express service at Victoria during a week of strike action on Southern rail services It is the latest industrial dispute to flare in recent months, with strikes on Southern Railway over staffing, the Post Office over jobs, pensions and closures, a work to rule on London Underground over jobs and ticket office closures, and threats of industrial action at British Airways over cabin crew pay.Brian Strutton, general secretary of Balpa, said: “Balpa is the recognised pilot union in Virgin Atlantic and our members will be working as normal over the Christmas and New Year holiday.”I understand the PPU wants to represent Virgin pilots as well and Balpa has offered them joint recognition with us. So there is really no need for any industrial action.”center_img Staff at the UK’s 300 largest Post Offices – which handle 20 per cent of all post – have announced a five-day strike which will last until Christmas EveCredit:PA The PPU was launched three years ago, breaking away from the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa), and claims to represent 70 per cent of Virgin’s 900 pilots.It wants to be the only union Virgin deals with, and for Balpa to be de-recognised.The PPU is formed entirely of Virgin Atlantic pilots and is not affiliated to the TUC. Unite national officer Oliver Richardson said: “We appreciate that this is a very busy time of year at the UK’s airports and that’s why we are calling for the company to engage in constructive talks under the auspices of Acas to resolve this dispute. Unite’s door is open 24/7 for such talks.”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.” Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic pilots will take action short of a strike in a row over union recognition, and will work “strictly to contract” from December 23.Their union, the PPU, said 88 per cent of its members voted in favour on a turnout of 80 per cent.The action will see a removal of “pilot goodwill”, with pilots who are members of the PPU working strictly to their contract.”It is possible that this may leave some flights not covered for the duration of any action, which has the potential to continue indefinitely,” said a statement. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img