Strikes To Continue As Baggage Handlers Reject Job Cuts Offer

A dispute by baggage handlers at Liverpool John Lennon Airport intensified last night.

The GMB union unanimously rejected a new downscaled proposal of compulsory redundancies by employer Servisair.

And it was confirmed around 100 workers are to lodge grievances with the company as the row grows increasingly bitter.

Baggage handlers have been involved in a discontinuous walkout at Speke for more than a month, picketing for two hours on four days a week.

Up to 80 members met yesterday to dismiss a fresh plan to reduce 37 job losses to around 22 as the GMB was set to begin the first step of a legal action against the Runcorn-based Servisair.

Salary reductions are expected to be taken from strikers' pay packets this Friday, angering union members.

It follows a decision by Servisair to dock a whole day's money from picketers, even though they walkout for only the scheduled two hours of their shift.

The company has brought in workers from their other UK airport bases as a contingency plan.

Last night Eddie Parker, regional organiser for the GMB, said they could launch 103 grievances over the 'partial performance' argument.

That matter would be dealt with internally, and if necessary, progress to the civil courts to seek compensation.

Following the rejection of the latest offer, it was confirmed that industrial action will continue on Christmas Eve afternoon, the morning and afternoon of Christmas Day and Boxing Day after noon.

Mr Parker said: "Servisair's stance brings us back to day one. The resolve in our meeting was rock solid and unanimous.

"The meeting was over in 25 minutes, and I was talking for 15 minutes talking about their latest proposal.

"There is real anger about these unlawful pay deductions.

"If that was resolved, we could potentially discuss with our members the merits of a rethink over the redundancy numbers."

Mediators Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), who joined the talks last week, have already been informed of the latest development.

Servisair, which has refused to fully outline their rationale over the job losses, said: "We are disappointed as we felt the offer on the table was a good one. We are now considering our options.

"We do not expect any disruption during the Christmas and New Year period and have robust plans in place and the travelling public should turn up for flights as normal."

The dispute centres upon a move, in GMB's words, to make staff more multi-skilled to cover wider-ranging duties and so allowing for a reduction of posts.

So far, Servisair has resisted suggestions from the union to reveal their financial books to prove compulsory redundancies at the airport are necessary.

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