Passengers face summer ‘chaos’ as airport staff back strike action

Unite said that said 85% of its members at Edinburgh Airport have backed industrial action.

Unite members at Edinburgh Airport vote to take strike action over pay dispute iStock

A union has warned Scotland’s busiest airport faces a summer of “travel chaos” after workers voted to take strike action.

Unite said 275 of its members at Edinburgh Airport will walk out after 85% of its members balloted backed strike action, on a turnout of 75%.

A spokeswoman for the union is calling on airport bosses to come back with a “realistic” pay offer if they want to avoid a summer of “chaos”.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite’s members at Edinburgh Airport have emphatically backed strike action. The pay offer on the table is nowhere near good enough and airport bosses know it.

“A realistic pay offer needs to be put on the table which values our members in the same way as our members at Gatwick Airport.

“Unite will always support our members in the fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

Edinburgh Airport recorded over 11 million passengers in 2022.

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 £1,500.

They 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.

Carrie Binnie, Unite industrial officer, said: “Unite wants to resolve this dispute at Edinburgh Airport through negotiation. However, we fear that airport management will instead choose to escalate this situation rather than reflect and see sense after the ballot result.

“Unite’s members deserve a pay offer which matches that of other airport workers including those where the owners GIP have a big stake like at Gatwick.

“It’s up to airport bosses now but they are under no illusions as to the strength of feeling among our membership.”

A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said: “This is a disappointing decision from Unite, especially after we met the ask of our unions – an 11% pay rise along with a £1,000 cost of living payment. We have made an improved offer to staff, with a 50% increase in the cost of living payment proposed. This has not yet been balloted on.

“Unite is insistent on comparing this offer to the one made at Gatwick but the important context missing from that comparison pushed by Unite is that this 11% increase at Edinburgh Airport would be the third pay rise given to the team at since 2020, representing an overall increase of 19.6%. In contrast, this is the first offer made by Gatwick in the same timeframe – a point Unite purposefully fails to note.

“We have proposed a deal that is well above what has been offered to many other workers in Scotland and is well above inflation. We still have serious concerns about the integrity of the original ballot and the number of members that voted – concerns Unite have failed to address.

“We have made every attempt to avert industrial action and to agree a well-deserved pay rise for all of our hardworking employees, not just the minority who are Unite members. We remain open to negotiating in good faith with our unions and have agreed to participate in future talks.”

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