Warning of summer travel chaos as airport workers voted to strike

Passengers could face a summer of travel chaos if workers decide to take strike action in a pay dispute, a union has warned.

Unite said it would vote around 275 workers at Edinburgh Airport for the strikes, including members employed in security, terminal operations and research areas.

The union said members’ pay had been cut by about 10% in real terms over the past seven years and said workers were “ready to fight for a better deal”.

Unite said its members at Edinburgh Airport had rejected an offer of lower pay than it made to staff at Gatwick, where it said a 12% raise plus a one-off cash payment of £1,500 had been accepted from the workforce.

Edinburgh Airport said it had offered an 11% pay rise alongside a £1,000 living cost payment, which it described as “fair and competitive”.

Sharon Graham

Unite secretary general Sharon Graham said pay must keep pace with cost of living (PA)

Unite Secretary-General Sharon Graham said: “Unite members at Edinburgh Airport have made huge sacrifices during the Covid pandemic. They agreed to reductions in wages and conditions. The workers did all of this while working around the clock to keep the airport safe and running.

“The situation is completely different now with passenger numbers surpassing 11 million last year and inflation is at a 40-year high.

“Pay has to keep up with the cost of living – simple as that. Edinburgh Airport bosses need to make a realistic salary offer to staff if they are to avoid a summer of travel chaos.”

The Unite ballot opens on Friday and closes on May 23.

An Edinburgh Airport spokesman said: “It is disappointing that we find ourselves in this situation despite meeting our unions’ demand for an 11% pay rise along with a £1,000 living cost payment.

“We believe this is a fair and competitive offer and has been requested by both of our recognized unions through our collective bargaining agreement. Both said they would recommend the offer to members.

Edinburgh Airport

Edinburgh Airport said offer made to staff was ‘fair and competitive’ (PA)

“One union has seen overwhelming support for the agreed offer and we fail to understand why Unite campaigned against and rejected the very offer they asked of us.

“We have asked for clarity on Unite’s membership numbers given the narrow nature of the result, in which less than 1% of members voted against, and have raised serious concerns about the integrity of the vote and the number of members that voted.

“We hope to resolve these issues at our scheduled ACAS meeting to enable us to deliver the pay raise and cost of living payment we want to pay to our team.”

On the Gatwick comparison, he said: “We appreciate that the offer made at Gatwick is good, but if we are really going to compare it to the offer made at Edinburgh then it has to be taken in context.

“Despite the challenges of Covid, this will be the third pay raise given to the team at Edinburgh Airport since 2020. This is the first offer made by Gatwick in the same time frame.

“This meant that the Edinburgh team would have received an overall pay rise of 19.6% over the same period.”

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