Birmingham airport strike threat over pay
Birmingham airport workers could hold disruptive summer strikes after bosses said they “did not have the money” for pay rises that were agreed last year.
Check-in staff and baggage handlers, who are employed by Swissport, are angry about a 2.75 per cent pay increase that has not been honoured by their employers.
The two-year pay deal was agreed last year and salaries should have increased from April 1.
The same deal was agreed with members across the country, who also work at the UK’s busiest airports, including London Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted, as well as Manchester, Glasgow and Newcastle.
The Unite union confirmed that Swissport had told them it does not have the money.
John Partridge, deputy regional secretary at Unite, said: “This is a two-year deal that was agreed last year but has not been paid. There was a formal agreement for a 2.75 per cent pay increase that should have started in April.
“They told staff that they were very sorry but they were not honouring the pay rise because they could not afford it. They said they simply didn’t have the money.
“They agreed to meet one of our national officers. He told them that they had to come up with the cash. We went out to the members to see if they would support the principal of industrial action and they said yes.
“We are now waiting to see what Swissport have to say for themselves. It is potentially serious because if Swissport say they are not going to pay then there will be a ballot for industrial action.
“They are a big player at Birmingham Airport.”
A worker, who did not wish to be named, said there was anger among staff, of which there are at least 150 in Birmingham.
He said: “We agreed a deal that should have been paid by now and the company is trying to get out of it.
“The company says it has no money to pay us a rise at all.
“The union is looking at what the next stage is but everybody is really angry. There is no point in having these kinds of deals if they are not going to stick to them.”
A Swissport spokesman said: “As part of a pay agreement a minimum increase of 2.75 per cent was agreed.
“However, in common with the rest of the world, the subsequent economic events were obviously not foreseen.
“Yet, despite our customers seeking reductions in prices, the company has expressed its commitment to increase both the salaries and benefits of its employees.
“We have invited the trade union to join with us in seeking ways both to increase revenue and productivity and reduce costs to fund these improvements.
“But unfortunately they have refused to enter into any discussions.
“The company is, however, continuing to consult with its employees to explore all ideas and suggestions that will enable improvements to be made to both salaries and employee benefits.”
A spokeswoman for the airport said Swissport was one of four companies that provided ground services for them.
She said the airport had not been informed of any dispute and that commenting on potential disruption would be “speculation at this stage.”