More than 1,500 staff at British airports due to strike over Christmas

18 airports will be affected by the industrial action

More than 1,500 check-in staff, baggage handlers and cargo crew at 18 airports in the UK will strike for 48 hours from December 23rd over pay, the Unite union said.

Workers at Swissport, the world's largest ground and cargo handler, are taking the action following a long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

Unite called on management to take part in "constructive talks".

It said the action, which will hit Christmas travel, was "a last resort".

The airports affected are Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Bournemouth, Cardiff, Doncaster, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Glasgow,  Heathrow, Leeds/Bradford, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle, Southampton and Stansted.

Unite UK's national officer Oliver Richardson said: "We appreciate that this is a very busy time of year at the UK's airports.

"That's why we are calling for the company to engage in constructive talks under the auspices of Acas to
resolve this dispute.

"Unite's door is open 24/7 for such talks. Our members are only taking this industrial action as a last resort in a bid to reach a fair settlement. Our members have not had a pay rise since 2014."

Unite members voted by 62.5% to reject a 4.65% three year pay deal for 2015-2017.

The union said the pay deal barely kept pace with inflation.

The staff were also said to be angry that detrimental changes to terms and conditions have been linked to the pay deal.

The changes include freezing overtime payments for the foreseeable future and restructuring pay.