Strike Update: 2 U.K. Airports Say Industrial Action Postponed

August 28, 2009
U.K. Baggage Handler Strike Possible

Update, 12:10 p.m. EDT: According to the airports' Web sites, unionized baggage handlers at Stansted and Gatwick will not strike over the August Bank Holiday weekend -- good news for cruise travellers worried about delays. We were unable to confirm by press time whether workers at Manchester would also postpone industrial action. A Swissport spokesperson was not available for comment.

(August 25, 1:17 p.m. EDT) -- Cruise travellers got good news earlier this month when a proposed U.K. border strike was called off, but now another battle stands to impact holidaymakers.

According to the Unite union's Web site, baggage handlers at Stansted, Manchester and Gatwick airports have voted to strike over a pay dispute with their employer, Swissport, which provides on-ground services for numerous airlines including Virgin Atlantic and Emirates. The unionized workers are scheduled to strike this weekend -- the U.K.'s August Bank Holiday, one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.

Swissport spokesperson Stephen Beerli tells us that both parties are trying to avoid a strike and that negotiations are ongoing. A final compromise, if made, would likely occur at the very last minute -- so, at this point, travellers routing through these airports this weekend should anticipate delays.

Beerli says Swissport is also in talks with the airlines and authorities to develop contingency plans to minimise disruption.

P&O, Royal Caribbean, Fred. Olsen, Princess, Cunard and Saga are among the cruise lines operating ex-U.K. sailings departing this weekend.

Stay tuned.

--by Melissa Baldwin Paloti, Managing Editor, with reporting by Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor