British trade union votes for airport strikes, but talks go on
Strikes that threaten to paralyse air traffic in Britain at peak holiday time loomed Thursday after a key trade union overwhelmingly voted for industrial action in a pay dispute, dpa reported.
The union Unite said almost 75 per cent of around 3,000 members who voted in a ballot backed industrial action at Britain's six leading airports, following a pay dispute with airport operator BAA.
The ballot came after Unite rejected what it called a "measly and confrontational" 1-per cent pay offer from BAA, which is now owned by Spanish company Ferrovial.
But BAA said only 50 per cent of the 6,000 Unite members eligible to vote had turned out for the ballot. "We do not believe this result provides a clear mandate for strike action," a spokesman said.
If the strikes go ahead, two of London's main airports, Heathrow and Stansted, would be affected, as well as Southampton and three Scottish airports - Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.
BAA has already said that those airports would have to be closed on strike days, as essential staff, including firefighters, would take part in walkouts.
Unite said it would announce strike dates early next week. But both sides stressed that they hoped to be able to avert strike action through continued negotiation.
The union staged a series of cabin crew strikes at British Airways earlier this year.