Edinburgh airport: Workers vote for strike action over pay, threatening travel chaos as summer holidays near
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Members of the Unite union backed a stoppage by 85 per cent in a ballot which saw a 75 per cent turnout, but no dates have been set for any walk-out and Unite is calling on airport bosses to get round the table with an improved pay offer. The union says it represents the overwhelming majority of the estimated 500 workers based at Edinburgh Airport, which is controlled by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), who also run London’s Gatwick airport.
The workers involved in the ballot deal with passengers directly in airport security, terminal operations, search areas and process them for flights, as well as screening all deliveries, and dealing with airside support services. Unite says Edinburgh Airport’s offer is inferior to one made to Gatwick staff, who have accepted a 12 per cent increase plus a £1,500 one-off cash payment. Edinburgh Airport says its offer of an 11 per cent pay rise, along with a £1,000 cost of living payment, would be the third pay rise for staff since 2020, while Gatwick staff have had no increase in that time.
Unite highlights figures showing that over the last seven years £691.9m has flowed out Edinburgh Airport in payments made to GIP and its shareholders while workers’ real take-home pay is estimated to have dropped by around 9.8 per cent over the same period. 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.”
Carrie Binnie, Unite industrial officer, said the union wanted to resolve the dispute 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.”
An Edinburgh Airport spokesman said: “This is a disappointing decision from Unite, especially after we met the ask of our unions – an 11 per cent pay rise along with a £1,000 cost of living payment. We have made an improved offer to staff, with a 50 per cent 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 per cent increase at Edinburgh Airport would be the third pay rise given to the team at since 2020, representing an overall increase of 19.6 per cent. 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.”