Strike will affect Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh

Tens of thousands of Britons planning on coming to the Balearics over Christmas and New Year face having their festive holiday plans disrupted by industrial action at UK airports while the threat of strike is expectd to force some Britons to think again about travelling. The bad news was revealed last night after a major union voted to reject a pay deal from airport authorities. Officials from the TGWU will be locked in talks with British Airports Authority (BAA) management last night after their members voted two to one against the pay offer. Union leader Bill Morris said if talks failed notice would be given of strike action. The much smaller Amicus union voted to accept the pay deal in a separate vote. The ballot included firefighters, security staff and engineers at seven airports, including Heathrow and Gatwick. The TGWU, the main union involved, had urged members to reject the BAA offer, which the employers say is worth 7% over two years. If action does go ahead provisional dates for 24hour strikes are 15 and 23 December, and 2 January. Mr Morris told BBC News that last night's talks could be “critical”, but insisted he remained “mildly optimistic” that strike action could be averted. “We are conscious of our responsibility (toward passengers) but I'm equally conscious of my members interests. We have been negotiating since January. “I enter these talks not seeking or contemplating failure. I along with the company, I hope, will be working for success.” The dates that had been given as possible strike days have been scrapped, although Mr Morris would not be drawn as to whether strikes before the new year were now ruled out. He added: “This evening will be critical because we are determined to stay as long as necessary to resolve the dispute. ”If at the end of the evening's negotiation there is no agreement, the options boil down to giving notice of industrial action. Amicus, which has 600 members involved, did not make a recommendation. BAA deputy chief executive Mike Clasper said: “Our offer is a significantly improved pay deal”. He described it as “a reasonable offer to staff who are already well paid”. The T&G said last night ahead of the talks getting under way that, while the new deal is an improvement, it does not recognise the extra work required of members since 11 September. Any strike would affect BAA's airports at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Southampton, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh. The unions have argued that such strikes could close the airports, but it is unclear what volume of flights would be affected. BAA says the latest offer - up on a 6.3% offer which has already been rejected represents an average salary increase of £1'400.

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