A proposed airport strike which would have caused travel misery for thousands of holidaymakers was tonight suspended by union bosses.
The Transport & General Workers Union announced it had suspended the first four of five days of strike action planned to start this Thursday.
The industrial action, which would have affected seven BAA airports across Britain, was suspended so members could consider an improved pay offer.
Tim Lyle, T&G national secretary for civil air transport, said: “In order to provide a pause for peace and to protect the union’s legal position, the T&G is suspending the first four days of strike action at BAA’s seven airports.
“The final offer made by BAA represents a significant improvement and given the democracy enshrined in the T&G it is only right and proper that the membership is given the right to vote on
the total final package.”
Firefighters, security staff and other workers at the seven airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Southampton, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh – voted earlier this month to take industrial action over pay.
The Transport & General Workers Union and Amicus announced a series of 24-hour strikes, starting on Thursday, unless the dispute was resolved.
It was not immediately clear if Amicus had also suspended its industrial action.
Union leaders and the British Airports Authority were involved in tense negotiations over the series of strikes and were understood to have been involved in “informal” talks today.
BAA had initially made a pay offer which it said was worth a minimum of 6.3% over two years and well above the rate of inflation.
The planned strike days were Thursday, November 28, December 2, December 10 and December 15.
One further 24-hour walk-out was not suspended and is set to go ahead on December 23 unless the dispute is resolved.
BAA’s new offer – understood to be 5.1% in the first year for the lowest paid and 3.1% for the highest paid, rising to at least 3.25% for all workers in the second year – will now be put to union members.
A ballot is expected within the next three to four weeks.
Amicus have not suspended their proposed action and were said to still be in talks.
Amicus has around 600 members involved in the dispute while the TGWU has 4,000 members involved.
It had warned that it could cripple the seven airports on strike days, leaving them unable to operate.
Workers were said to have felt frustrated at BAA’s initial offer, citing the company’s big profits this year as opposed to their own increased workloads and responsibilities following the September 11 terrorist attacks.
They voted by a margin of 2-1 in favour of strikes after rejecting the BAA offer.