A series of Christmas strikes at Birmingham International Airport was dramatically called off last night after union leaders agreed to binding arbitration.
Eight 12-hour stoppages - due to start this Thursday and including Christmas Eve, Boxing Day and New Year's Eve - would have grounded all flights and the airport was in the process of organising diversions to rival airports such as Manchester, East Midlands and Coventry.
The move represents a U-turn by Amicus, which turned down the airport's offer of binding arbitration last month before its 200-strong BIA membership was balloted on industrial action.
The dispute centred on the sacking of two security workers for unauthorised absences and falsifying attendance reports.
A brief statement, agreed by both parties, was released by the airport last night.
"BIA is pleased to announce that the strike action planned by the trade union Amicus at the airport over the Christmas period has been cancelled. The Airport Company and Amicus have agreed that the dispute will be referred to a process of independent binding arbitration."
Amicus recently refused to comment on BIA's assertion that 22 members of the union at the airport had quit in protest over the strike action. The Birmingham Post understands that more Amicus members left the union over the weekend.
In November, prior to the two-week ballot of members, Amicus regional officer Peter Coulson told The Post binding arbitration was against "union policy" and it would not enter into "sweetheart deals" with the airport company.
Both Mr Coulson and the Amicus national press office were unavailable for comment last night.
Amicus said nearly 70 per cent of its members voted in favour of industrial action although the airport claimed a smaller percentage voted 'yes'.
The union said allegations of unauthorised absence, falsification of records and breaches of trust made against the members of staff had no foundation.
Officials claimed surveillance techniques used by management were in breach of data protection and human rights laws and are seeking legal advice.