Unite will begin balloting nearly 200 members, employed on the Norwegian airline baggage handling contract at Gatwick airport for strike action in a pay dispute today (September 29).
The workers are employed by Omni Serv, which undertakes ground operations duties as well as baggage handling. However, Omni Serv is effectively the middle man as the contract is tendered by Red Handling which is a subsidiary owned by Norwegian airline.
Unite understands that it is Red Handling which is making the key decisions on pay.
Rather than offer a pay increase, Red Handling suggested that a company barbecue was a suitable alternative.
Unite represents a significant majority of the workforce. Ballot papers will be sent out to 190 members from today (September 29) and the ballot will close on Friday, October 13.
“Workers want bucks, not burgers,” said Unite regional officer Jamie Major. “Our members are not going to be palmed off with a few burnt sausages on a barbecue, instead of a pay rise. Our members need to be able to afford to eat every day.
“The annual pay rise was due in May,” he added. “Since then, the employer has made a derisory offer which has been overwhelmingly rejected by our members.
“I have extended an invitation to meet with the company to avoid strike action, if it agreed to put a fair offer on the table, but even this overture that has been ignored.
“Omni Serv and Red Handling’s refusal to constructively engage in discussing an increase in basic pay shows that they are treating our members with contempt.
“Strike action will inevitably cause severe disruption for Norwegian’s passengers at Gatwick airport,” Major noted. “Our members only consider taking strike action as a last resort. This dispute is of Red Handling and, therefore, Norwegian’s own making.
“This dispute can still be averted if Red Handling and Norwegian are prepared to ensure our members receive a fair pay offer.”