'Summer shutdown' looming as Birmingham Airport workers ballot for strike action
Travel chaos could be on the way this summer as staff at Birmingham Airport ballot for strike action over pay after 'two years of substantial pay cuts'.
Around 100 security officers and terminal technicians employed by the airport, as well as aircraft refuellers employed by Menzies, are being balloted over industrial action which could begin next month.
This would hit the peak travel season and coincide with the summer holidays, which could cause severe disruption for travellers.
It comes after Birmingham Airport was revealed to be the worst airport in the UK for delays for the second year running.
A spokesperson for the union Unite said: "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. 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 general secretary Sharon Graham added: "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 June 29. The ballot of Menzies workers closes on July 3.
Unite regional officer Sulinder Singh said: "Strike action would cause a summer shutdown at Birmingham Airport but this would be entirely the fault of the airport’s leadership and Menzies.
"Many of the workers at the airport are really struggling to make ends meet. This is simply unacceptable when both companies have enough money to pay them fairly.
"The employers need to come back to the negotiating table with offers that are acceptable to our hard-pressed members."
Birmingham Airport has been contacted for comment.