Management have a responsibility to public to make realistic pay offer and avoid severe disruption over holiday period
Ahead of ACAS negotiations, Unite Regional Officer blasts as misleading letter issued by management to workforce
December 20th: Ahead of ACAS negotiations, Belfast-based Unite Regional Officer George Brash has challenged Swissport management on the content of a letter they issued to workers which sought to mislead about the causes of the industrial dispute:
“Unite is keen to avoid the UK-wide 48-hour strike of baggage handlers and cargo crew set to commence at 00.01 Friday 23 December. We recognise that this will likely result in severe disruption at both Belfast City and International Airports where Unite represents the overwhelming majority of workers.
“Unite invited management to join ACAS-brokered negotiations to find a resolution, an offer they have finally accepted. Unfortunately ahead of these negotiations they have sent a letter to workers seeking to misrepresent the facts, and which claims they organised the ACAS negotiations themselves!
“They claim they matched the pay demand sought but the reality is that we judged their latest offer as justifying a ballot of our members in order to give every possible chance to avoid unnecessary strike action. Following its overwhelming rejection, management told Unite not to bother getting in contact with ACAS – a decision they reversed once we notified them of strike action dates.
“The letter presented highly selective inflation figures but even on this basis their latest offer is only marginally above inflation for the period. The reality is however that by bringing forward the third year anniversary date from April to January 2017 they have excluded the significant jump in inflation resulting from the Brexit vote. Official forecasts for inflation by the end of 2017 are as high as 4.0% which would more than wipe out the proposed pay increase.
“Management also attempted to sow confusion by denying that there was any threat to overtime payments. The reality is that for those employees who would receive an increase to overtime this will not be backdated, and that there are wider proposals that would limit guaranteed minimum overtime rates to the default rate.
“Despite management actions, Unite remains confident that our members’ case is extremely strong, that fairness will prevail and we can obtain a resolution at ACAS to avoid an unnecessary, disruptive strike action”, Mr Brash concluded.