This morning strikes by #Unite Union airport baggage handlers for Friday and #Christmas Eve were called off but there has been very little media coverage of this. Most outlets have been highlighting how the strikes will cause widespread disruptions over the Christmas period, often painting those who do #Strike as the enemy. This highlights the importance unions do have within society.

Unions can hold too much power at times but this is the very reason they need to exist, and why media corporations owned by the likes of Murdoch dislike them.

Why strike?

The reasons behind the strike are that of mostly pay, but there are a few times when employers do get held to ransom.

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The most part of strikes are that because the employer is acting unfairly and in this case, is no different. The BBC reported that Unite members chose 62.5% in favour of rejecting a 4.65% pay rise from 2015 to 2017, whilst the rise is good in comparison to other companies it barely keeps up with inflation.

However, base pay was not the only reason the strike was organised but the changes to terms and conditions that were deemed detrimental, including freezing overtime payments for the foreseeable future and restructuring pay. This was going to be a 48-hour strike with more than 1500 members due to take part in it but it was called off after talks with conciliation service Acas; where Swissport, the company who employs the baggage handlers, have tabled a revised offer.

Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey said that it would recommend the offer to its members.

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He added further that "No worker likes taking strike action, but often the threat of it is the only way to make headway in very frustrating circumstances.”

He continued, "all along we have said that these workers have a powerful case. They are employed on poverty pay rates - this union says that this is not good enough and so we are determined to win them a better deal."

Why has there been little media coverage?

The media have decided to barely cover the resolution of these strikes even though for weeks leading up to them, they have been shouting the odds over the disruptions that could have been caused by them. The very word ‘strike’ sounds more negative than the term ‘industrial action’, when these are people who feel they are being manipulated and used by their employer. These are people with genuine concerns about their rights within the workplace and if they can pay their bills and feed their families.

This is a success of collective bargaining because the power of this has been recognised by Swissport, who have come in with a better deal and the strike has been called off.

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The term industrial action better describes what is happening as this is an action within an industry over changes to working and pay conditions. Unfortunately, this government are pushing towards what they call a ‘gig economy’ where people work as many or as little hours as they want without any restrictions. However, this eliminates security for an individual and could see the end or the serious reduction of worker’s rights.

Worker’s rights are extremely important for everyone and whilst many like the flexibility of working freelance or starting their own businesses. There are many who prefer having a contract and having those assurances that they will be paid if they are sick, and if you become pregnant you won’t find yourself not being able to survive.

It would also be women who would lose out more through the ‘gig’ economy, as many rights that protect them within the workplace including harassment or future pregnancy, would become harder to govern and enforce; leaving many missing out on fundamental rights.