Unite has struck back after Gatwick airport security workers were illegally told they could be fired for taking part in lawful industrial action.
The threats have diminished the chances of a 48 hour strike this weekend at Gatwick – involving more than 130 Unite members employed by ICTS – being avoided.
In response to the threats, Unite has also announced a further four days of strike action beginning on Tuesday 20 August and ending on Saturday 24 August.
The workers, who are employed to scan passengers’ luggage for explosive items and other prohibitive materials, voted by 95 per cent in favour of industrial action over low pay.
Rather than enter into negotiations to resolve the dispute, ICTS has instead twice written to Unite claiming the strike is ‘illegal’ and if workers take industrial action then it “may result in disciplinary action being taken against them; up to and including dismissal”.
Unite has totally refuted ICTS’ allegations that the strike is unlawful in any way.
The dispute concerns pay, with the majority of the workforce receiving just £8.50 an hour and they are seeking a 50 pence an hour increase, which would boost their pay to the real living wage of £9 an hour.
If the strikes go ahead it is likely to cause considerable delays and disruption at the airport.
Unite regional officer Jamie Major said, “The behaviour of ICTS is deplorable, rather than seeking to resolve the dispute through negotiation they have instead decided to threaten and intimidate our members.
“Rather than scare our members into submission this ham-fisted attempt at intimidation has instead strengthened members’ resolve to secure a decent rate of pay.
“Our members undertake a crucial role which keeps passengers and airport workers safe, it is simply astonishing they are paid below the living wage for the work they do.
“If ICTS wishes to resolve the dispute, then the company needs to drop the threats, sit down at the negotiating table and end poverty pay rates for its members.”