Staff at London Stansted – one of the UK’s busiest airports – are voting on a strike which could cause major disturbance for passengers.
More than 1,000 workers, including security guards, cleaners, maintenance workers, airport ambassadors and firefighters, are taking part in the vote. It opened on August 26 and will end on September 19, when they will decide whether to continue or not. strike or not.
The Unite union says the strike would cause “significant disruption” and “may even shut down the airport” because of the vital work carried out by staff taking part in the vote.
Why might Stansted Airport workers go on strike?
During the pandemic, airport workers took a 10% pay cut over one year. This was then extended for three months on a short-term basis. Unite points out that over the same period the pay of executives at Manchester Airport Group (MAG), the company that owns Stansted, has increased by 23%.
An initial offer of a 7.5% pay rise and a one-off payment of £250 (€290) by MAG was overwhelmingly rejected by workers, the union adds.
“Stansted and MAG expected our members to make financial sacrifices during the pandemic and they expect them to do the same now during the cost of living crisis,” said the general secretary of Unite, Sharon Graham.
“Everyone should tighten their belts except the MAGs rich frames. Our members will not tolerate this and they will receive Unite’s full support in their fight for a fair pay rise.
Ryanair has just announced that it will be adding 500 more flights at Stansted in October as passenger numbers surge, Unite regional co-ordinator Mark Robinson said.
“It’s abundantly clear that the company can afford to invest in its people and deliver a significantly improved offering.”
What does Stansted Airport have to say about potential strikes?
A spokesman for Stansted Airport told Euronews Travel they were “surprised and disappointed to learn that Unite had chosen to have their colleagues vote for a strike on the grounds that they considered our latest wage offer to be unacceptable “.
“This is the same salary offer that we agreed with Unite, and which they urged their members to vote for as recently as July 20.”
Stansted also shared a letter Unite allegedly sent to its members in July, in which the union said it “believes [they] obtained the best possible result through negotiation”.
“We remain fully committed to working with our unions to reach an agreement that recognizes the hard work and dedication of our colleagues and maintains the financial stability of the airport after the extreme challenges we have faced due to the pandemic and at a time when passenger levels are still significantly lower than they were in 2019,” the spokesperson added.
They said Stansted would continue to speak to all airport staff – not just those represented by Unite, to discuss a fair and competitive offer.