Swissport lockout threat at Belfast City Airport has potential to escalate industrial dispute in UK

George BrashManagement threaten workers with a lockout if they participate in legitimate and legal strike action

Regional Officer confident Unite National Negotiating Committee will take resolute action in solidarity with Belfast workforce

October 12th: Expressing his union’s outrage at the threat by management at Swissport to lock out Oxctover employees, including baggage-handlers taking part in planned strike action commencing Monday October 23rd, Unite Regional Industrial Officer, George Brash said:

“Swissport management has issued a communication threatening to lock out any member of staff taking part in the planned industrial action. This unscrupulous employer appears to believe that such a draconian measure will intimidate workers by punishing them for their participation in what is entirely legitimate and lawful industrial action.

“Only last week management were boasting that they had taken steps to mitigate any impact arising from the industrial action, today’s response indicates that those steps were inadequate and that they now feel compelled to exclude workers entirely from their employment.

“This entire dispute has arisen as a result of Swissport’s anti-union stance and in defence of a union-rep who was dismissed by management as part of a sustained campaign targeting him for his trade union activities. Our representative faced continued hostility from management up to, and including, inequitable treatment by comparison with co-workers on several occasions.

“Unite will not allow our members to be walked over – this threat has the potential to escalate the dispute across the UK. This issue has been raised with the National Officer for Unite’s workforce at Swissport and we are confident that the union’s National Negotiating Committee will take resolute action in solidarity with our members here. Workers across Belfast are aware of what is happening and  many have already expressed their solidarity to us.

“Swissport need to ditch their anti-union stance, step back from the belief that they can bully workers into submission and negotiate a way forward with us. The right to collective organisation and active membership of a trade union is a fundamental human right and it is one that we will defend to the end.

“Strike action at the airport is due to commence on October 23rd. We will be meeting with our workforce representatives in coming days to determine how best we respond to management’s threats”, Mr Brash finished.

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