The possibility of strike action is looming for Birmingham Airport over the coming summer months. Unite the Union has announced that it is balloting its members at the airport for strike action over pay.
The ballot will close on June 29, and if a majority of workers vote in favour of strike action, strikes could begin as early as July.
The union is demanding a pay rise of at least 10% for its members, who have faced two years of pay cuts. Unite says that the workers are “really struggling to make ends meet” and that the airport’s management is “profiting at the expense of its workers.”
Birmingham Airport has said that it is “disappointed” by the union’s decision to ballot for strike action. The airport says that it has made a “generous offer” to its workers, which includes a pay rise of 7.75% plus a one-off payment of £850.
The airport says that it is “hopeful” that the union will reject the strike call and that the two sides can reach a negotiated settlement.
If strikes do go ahead, they could cause significant disruption to flights at Birmingham Airport. The airport is one of the busiest in the UK, and it handles around 10 million passengers each year.
Strikes would likely lead to delays and cancellations, and could also cause problems for passengers who are trying to get to or from the airport.
The strike issue
The Birmingham Airport workers are being balloted after facing two years of substantial pay cuts. Three quarters of the Birmingham Airport workers being balloted are security officers working unsociable shift patterns for as little as £11.50 an hour.
The workers say that without a significant pay rise, recruitment and retention issues at the airport will worsen. Unite says that this will further the delays the airport is well known for.
Last year, the workers received a pay rise of just 2.8 per cent when the real rate of inflation, RPI, was running at 13.8 per cent – equating to an 11 per cent pay cut. This year, they have been offered 7.75 per cent and a one off £850 payment.
However, this is a further real terms pay cut as RPI inflation is still running high at 11.4 per cent. The offer would leave many workers unable to pay their bills as well as causing more staffing shortages.
The Menzies workers, who drive and operate tankers and refuel over three quarters of planes at the airport, have rejected a nine per cent pay offer.
This is again under RPI inflation and does not factor in the six per cent pay rise they received last year, which due to rocketing inflation was a significant pay cut.
Unite union comments
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Both Birmingham Airport and Menzies can afford to give their workers a fair pay rise and that is exactly what needs to happen.”
“Unite workers at Birmingham Airport are fed up with pay cuts, especially when they know both companies have combined profits of more than £80 million. These workers will receive their union’s total support during this dispute.”
Strikes could begin as early as July and would severely impact Birmingham Airport’s operations, leading to significant delays and cancelled flights. The ballot for strike action for Birmingham Airport security guards and terminal technicians closes on 29 June. The ballot of Menzies workers closes on 3 July.