In a recent development at Birmingham Airport, over 150 security officers and terminal technicians have suspended their planned strike action following an improved pay offer by their employer, Birmingham Airport Limited (HAL).
The all-out indefinite strike action, originally scheduled to begin today, Tuesday July 18, has been put on hold as a goodwill gesture, allowing the members of Unite, the trade union representing these workers, to vote on the new offer.
Unite regional officer Sulinder Singh announced the suspension, stating, “Unite’s members have agreed to suspend strike action while they are balloted on the new offer. We will be making no further comment until the result of the ballot is announced.”
However, if the revised offer is ultimately rejected by the workers, the indefinite strike action will proceed, commencing on Tuesday, August 1.
Impact of last week’s High Court ruling
The proposed all-out strike faced an additional setback when a High Court ruling on July 14 had implications for the situation. The ruling involved the banning of recruiting agency workers during strike actions.
The government’s decision to lift the ban on hiring agency workers during strikes in July 2022 had been challenged by a group of trade unions, including Unite, through a coordinated judicial review led by the TUC.
Last week, the High Court ruled in favour of the unions, stating that the 2022 amendment to the regulations, which allowed employers to recruit agency workers during strikes, was quashed due to the government’s failure to consult prior to implementing the proposals, as required by legislation.
Consequently, from Wednesday, August 10, employers would be prohibited from recruiting agency workers to undermine any legal strike action.
Unite’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, had expressed satisfaction with the High Court ruling, remarking, “This is a total vindication for unions and workers.”
“The government’s decision to allow employers to recruit agency workers to undermine legal strike action was a cynical move to back their friends in business and weaken workers’ legal rights to withdraw their labor.”
Graham further added, “It was entirely counterproductive as, rather than weaken industrial action, it has hardened attitudes and unnecessarily extended strikes.”
“Birmingham Airport should be aware that this will happen if it decides to use strike breakers in the short time it has to use them before the strikes begin and the ban comes into place. The only way this dispute will be resolved is with an acceptable offer from the company.”
Birmingham Airport revised offer
Prior to the suspension of strike action, the workers had rejected a pay offer made by Birmingham Airport Limited last week.
However, the company presented a revised offer this week, narrowly avoiding the strike and providing the workers with an opportunity to reconsider the proposal.
This development brings a moment of relief and a chance for dialogue between the airport management and the workers’ representatives. The revised offer will now be subject to the workers’ vote to determine its acceptance or rejection.
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