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Respite for air travellers as Unite calls off GibAir industrial action and resumes pay talks with Bland Group

Passengers at Gibraltar International Airport. Photo by Brian Reyes

Unite the Union on Wednesday said it had postponed industrial action at GibAir due to start on Thursday after the Bland Group, which owns the airport ground handling company, tabled a new offer in pay negotiations.

The union and the company had warned of travel disruption for air travellers, thelling them they faced delays as GibAir staff were due to work on ‘go slow’ out of uniforms.

For now, that scenario has been held off.

“Unite the Union GibAir representatives will be meeting with the Bland Group [on Thursday] afternoon to discuss and clarify what is being presented to staff,” a spokesman for the union said on Wednesday afternoon.

“Following this, Unite intends to be in a position to present the offer to its membership in the coming days.”

The announcement was also welcomed by Bland Group CEO, Nicholas Gaggero, who said this was “good news” for passengers travelling through the airport.

“We will be meeting with Unite representative to discuss a new set of conditions, and fortunately for passengers travelling through Gibraltar International Airport, this means there will be no disruptions,” Mr Gaggero told the Chronicle.

News of the industrial action was revealed by Bland Group on Monday, which said it was notified by Unite the Union over the weekend after “just two meetings” to discuss a pay claim that was formally tabled on July 4.

At the time, the company claimed the union had been “unreasonable” to move towards industrial action at “such short notice”, given its own willingness to engage.

Earlier this week, the union said it submitted a pay claim in May 2023 to the Bland Group after rounds of negotiations “which were delayed due to the employer not wanting to commence pay negotiation until July”.

Staff at GibAir had been offered an unconsolidated lump sum of £1200, no consolidated increase, and an ‘agreement in principle’ to review the employment conditions of those who had undertaken additional training.

The Bland Group also wanted to reduce the current Bradford Factor calculation threshold, a system used to calculate staff sick leave. The union wants it done away with altogether.

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