Edinburgh airport seeks to avert summer strike threat

Edinburgh airport is hoping to avert summer disruption after a union warned that members are to be balloted for a strike in a row over pay.

Unite said around 275 workers out of a total of 500 at the airport would be involved in the strike ballot.

They deal with passengers directly in airport security, terminal operations, search areas and process them for flights. The staff involved in the ballot also screen all deliveries, and deal with airside support services.

The ballot opens on May 5 and closes on May 23.

This follows Unite members rejecting an inferior pay offer to one made to Gatwick staff, where a 12% increase plus a £1,500 one-off cash payment has been offered, and accepted by the workforce.

The Scottish capital’s airport is owned by Global Infrastructure Partners which retains a minority stake in Gatwick via a group of managed investors.

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 11 million 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.”

An Edinburgh airport spokesperson 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.”

They added: “We appreciate that the offer being made at Gatwick is a good one but if we really want to compare this to the offer being made at Edinburgh then it must be taken in context.

“Despite the challenges of Covid this will be the third pay rise given to the team at Edinburgh airport since 2020. This is the first offer made by Gatwick in the same timeframe.

“This means that the Edinburgh team would have received an overall pay increase of 19.6% over the same time.”

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