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Talks stall in airport pay row

Friday, 31 August, 2001

Newcastle International Airport
Action could disrupt flights from the airport
Talks to avert a series of one-day strikes at Newcastle International Airport have been adjourned after they failed to reach an agreement.

Check-in staff and baggage handlers working for Groundstar, which provides services at the airport, are considering industrial action over pay.

Talks were held on Friday between the Transport and General Workers' Union (TGWU), arbitration service Acas, and Groundstar.

But they ended without any agreement and are to be resumed over the weekend of 1 and 2 September.

Passengers using Newcastle International Airport could face delays if the first in a series of proposed 24-hour stoppages goes ahead on 8 September.

Strike postponed

Melinda Charlton, Acas spokeswoman in Newcastle, is hopeful the parties will be able to reach an agreement that satisfies them both.

The strike was due to go ahead on 1 September, but was postponed after discussions between management and union.

After the talks broke down, Joe Keith, regional representative of the TGWU, said: "There was no progress, but we have agreed to come back to the table and try to resolve things."

He said the union had already withdrawn its planned action for 1 September in order for talks to be held.

Trevor Went, managing director of Newcastle Airport, said every effort was being made to resolve the dispute.

He would not comment on the possible disruption caused by industrial action.

One airline operating out of the airport, Tyneside-based Gill Airways, has been telling passengers its services to Belfast, Dublin, London, Paris and the Channel Islands, will operate as normal even if a strike takes place.

The TGWU says 94% of members who work for Groundstar at the airport have voted for action.

Teesside plans

Mr Keith said they were unhappy with their pay compared with staff at other bases.

A Groundstar spokesman said: "We are absolutely confident this matter will be resolved."

Executives at Teesside Airport have been holding talks with representatives from tour operator Britannia to prepare for any stoppages at Newcastle.

It could mean flights being diverted from Newcastle to Teesside, which is not affected by the dispute as Groundstar staff are not employed there.

 

E-mail Steve Margetts