Union warns airport faces summer ‘chaos’ as staff vote on strikes

Unite will ballot its members at the airport over strike action between May 5 and May 23.

A union has warned Scotland’s busiest airport faces a summer of “chaos” as workers are balloted over strike action.

Unite said 275 of its members at Edinburgh Airport, which recorded over 11 million passengers in 2022, will vote on walkouts in a dispute over pay.

The union said members rejected an “inferior” pay offer compared to colleagues at Gatwick Airport, who received an offer of a 12% increase plus a one-off payment of £1500.

Unite highlighted £691.9m that has flowed out Edinburgh Airport over the last seven years in payments made to parent company GIP (£304.2m) and shareholders (£387.7m), while workers real take-home pay is estimated to have dropped by around 9.8% over the same period.

Staff at the site will be balloted from May 5 until May 23, with any agreed industrial action possibly taking place this summer, the union confirmed.

A spokeswoman for the union is calling on airport bosses to make a “realistic pay offer” or face a summer of “travel chaos”.

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 11m 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.”

Other unions accepted the offer, which featured an 11% pay rise along with a £1,000 cost of living payment, earlier this year.

However, an Edinburgh Airport spokesperson said they had “serious concerns” about the “integrity” of the ballot, adding they had “questions” about the union’s membership numbers.

Carrie Binnie, Unite industrial officer, said: “Unite members’ pay in real terms has been cut by around 10 per cent over the last seven years, while £691.9m has flowed out the airport’s coffers in payments made to the parent company GIP, and in dividends to shareholders.

“This simply isn’t fair and our members are prepared to fight for a better deal.

“Unite wants to resolve this dispute at Edinburgh Airport through negotiation but airport management are stubbornly refusing to improve upon the current pay offer in any way.”

An 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.”

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