A potential strike by staff employed on a baggage handling contract at Heathrow airport has been avoided after the Unite union secured a new pay deal for its members.

According to the union, the agreement covers “hundreds of workers” employed by Babcock Airports Ltd, including baggage handlers and mechanical and electrical technicians.

The deal follows eight months of negotiations and talks at reconciliation service Acas and includes a three per cent pay rise in 2019 and 2020. In addition, Babcock has agreed to review workers’ contracts on an annual basis, with a commitment that “terms will not be reduced”, according to Unite. The review is due to be completed in March 2020, at which point the company will also review contractual redundancy pay.

Unite regional officer Lindsey Olliver said: “Unite’s reps at Babcock did a fantastic job in negotiating the best deal possible for our members. It is important to thank Acas for its assistance in getting this deal agreed. Without Acas’ assistance, it is likely that there would not have been an agreement and our members would have had no option but to be balloted for industrial action, potentially causing serious disruption at Heathrow.

“Following this agreement on pay and the further agreement to consider workers’ conditions it is hoped that we can develop a strong working relationship in the future.”

This is the second major strike averted at Heathrow airport after Unite suspended industrial action by more than 4,000 workers to allow them to vote on a new pay deal.

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