16/11/2004

800 jobs go after baggage handling company ceases trading

At least 800 people have lost their jobs today after London-Heathrow based ground services company Swissport UK Limited was placed in the hands of receivers early this morning.

The Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) today condemned the move by the parent company to place the ground handling business into administration without any warning or consultation with members as "disgraceful" and "cynical in the extreme".

The union said that staff at Heathrow only discovered their fate when they arrived for work on the overnight shift and found that their security passes had been revoked.

Brendan Gold, TGWU national secretary for civil aviation, said: "The way our members have been treated by Swissport is simply disgraceful. They only discovered that they had been thrown out of a job when they turned up for duty to find that the company had been put into liquidation.

"It was left to the security guards to inform them that they were now out of work."

The collapse of the airport ground handling business has not affected either the cargo service centre at the airport or the businesses operating at other UK airports, either under, or formerly under, the Groundstar name.

In a statement parent company Swissport International said that lengthy negotiations with both staff representatives and a major customer to find an alternative solution had been unsuccessful.

The company added: "It is with regret that following a number of years running an unprofitable business at Heathrow Airport and, more recently, extensive attempts to reverse the loss being sustained by the company, Swissport UK Limited will be placed into administration."

Other ground handling services companies stepped in at Heathrow to handle the company's operations for several airlines.

(SP/GMCG)

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