Summer travel chaos warning as airport staff balloted on strikes over pay
Unite will ballot almost 300 workers on strike action in a dispute over pay
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Unite is balloting around 275 workers at Edinburgh Airport on walkouts, including members employed in security, terminal operations and search areas. It comes as the union claimed staff have seen their pay cut by around 10% in real terms over the last seven years, warning that workers are “prepared to fight for a better deal”.
Union members at the airport have rejected an inferior pay offer to one that was made to staff at Gatwick, where a 12% increase plus a £1,500 one-off cash payment has been accepted by the workforce.
Edinburgh Airport said it had offered staff an 11% pay rise along with a £1,000 cost-of-living payment - a deal it described as “fair and competitive”. But the union argues that pay needs to keep up with the rising cost of living and called on airport bosses to make a “realistic” pay offer to staff.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite’s members at Edinburgh Airport made huge sacrifices during the Covid pandemic. They agreed to reductions in pay and conditions. The workers did all this while working around the clock to keep the airport safe and running.
“The situation is entirely different now with passenger figures hitting over 11 million last year, and inflation stands at a 40-year high. Pay needs to keep up with the cost of living – simple. Edinburgh Airport bosses need to make a realistic pay offer to the staff if they are to avoid a summer of travel chaos.”
The Unite ballot opens on Friday 5 May and closes on Tuesday 23 May. Edinburgh Airport said it has met the request of unions with its 11% pay offer, adding that it has raised “serious concerns” about the “integrity” of the strike ballot.
A spokesman for the airport said: “It’s disappointing that we are in this situation despite meeting the request of our unions – an 11% pay rise along with a £1,000 cost-of-living payment.
“We believe this is a fair and competitive offer and one that was asked for by both of our recognised unions through our collective bargaining arrangement. Both said they would recommend the offer to members. One union saw overwhelming support for the agreed offer and we cannot understand why Unite campaigned against and rejected the very offer they asked us for.
“We have sought clarity on Unite’s membership numbers given the tight nature of the result, where the vote against was carried by less than 1% of the membership, and we have raised serious concerns about the integrity of the ballot and the number of members that voted.
“We hope to resolve these issues at our scheduled Acas meeting to allow us to deliver the wage rise and cost-of-living payment that we want to pay our team.”
Commenting on the comparison to Gatwick, he added: “We appreciate that the offer being made at Gatwick is a good one, but if we really want to compare this to the offer being made at Edinburgh then it must be taken in context.
“Despite the challenges of Covid this will be the third pay rise given to the team at Edinburgh Airport since 2020. This is the first offer made by Gatwick in the same timeframe. This means that the Edinburgh team would have received an overall pay increase of 19.6% over the same time.”