Plans for strike action at Prestwick Airport branded 'confrontational'

Unite the union said the Ayrshire airport's 'rock bottom pay offer' was well below inflation.

Prestwick Airport workers set for strike action after Unite the union members balloted iStock

Workers at Glasgow Prestwick Airport are set to strike, in a move branded “confrontational” by airport bosses.

In a vote conducted recently, 78% of Unite members said they were prepared to strike over ‘rock bottom pay’, following a turnout of 84%.

Workers are in a dispute with management over its reported refusal to pay shift allowances and meet the Real Living Wage (£9.90) for new employees.

The trade union represents around 80 of the airport’s 300-strong workforce, and is backing their demands for a significant wage increase as inflation reached a 40-year-high at 11.7% this year.

It confirmed that talks facilitated by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service involving both parties will reconvene on Thursday afternoon in a “last-ditch attempt” to agree upon a deal to meet workers’ demands.

Prestwick Airport is a cargo base and hosts significant numbers of military flights and refuels from North America, along with domestic and international commercial flights.

It was taken into public ownership in November 2013 after being purchased by the Scottish Government for £1.

Branding the move “confrontational”, a spokesperson for the airport said the move “jeopardises the fragile recovery of the airport following the pandemic” and was “denying the majority of our workforce a pay deal which will see 70% of our 300 employees receiving a pay increase of 6.5% or above”.

They added: “Less than one in five (18%) of our workforce voted in favour of strike action. The majority of our workforce have already backed our pay offer, which will also see all qualified staff earn above the real living wage and are keen to see it implemented as soon as possible.

“We urge Unite to reconsider their position, and work with us to realise our ambitions, which will have a positive impact on the local economy at a critical time for the region.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Prestwick Airport management have one last chance before their rock bottom pay offer results in strike action. The last offer was not only well below inflation but it also proposes to pay new starters a rate lower than the real living wage.

“Our members deserve the public’s support in this battle, and we will fully support them in their fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

Siobhan McCready, Unite industrial officer said: “Unite’s members have overwhelmingly backed strike action because they are angry and frustrated. Talks are set to reconvene with Prestwick Airport management this week but we are not hopeful based on their arrogant attitude towards the workforce, while they shamelessly protect the pay packets of directors.

“All our members want is a fair rise and recognition for their flexibility and unsocial hours worked.”

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