Prestwick Airport workers back strike action

Nearly 80 per cent of Prestwick Airport workers vote to strike on 84 per cent turnout over pay

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Prestwick Airport workers have overwhelmingly backed strike action in a dispute over a real terms pay cut and poverty pay, Scotland’s leading aviation trade union, Unite, confirmed today (July 20).

By 78 per cent on an 84 per cent turnout, Unite members supported strike action with Prestwick Airport now set to face disruption in the coming weeks. The action will start on Friday, August 5 and will continue over four weeks on every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The dispute centres on the refusal of Prestwick Airport’s management to pay shift allowances and meet the Real Living Wage (£9.90) rate for new starters.

Unite represents more than 80 workers including airport security, firefighters, airfield operators, ground crew, ground handling, cargo, customer services, and cleaners. The workers have demanded a significant wage increase with inflation reaching a 40-year high at 11.7 per cent. The last offer on the table for the workforce was between 4 and 6.5 percent.

Unite can confirm that talks facilitated by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) involving both parties will reconvene on Thursday afternoon in a last-ditch attempt to reach a deal that meets the aspirations of the workers before strike action occurs.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Prestwick Airport management have one last chance before their rock bottom pay offer results in strike action. The last offer was not only well below inflation but it also proposes to pay new starters a rate lower than the real living wage. Our members deserve the public’s support in this battle, and we will fully support them in their fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

Prestwick Airport is also a cargo base and hosts significant numbers of military flights and refuels from North America, along with domestic and international commercial flights.

Siobhan McCready, Unite industrial officer added, “Unite’s members have overwhelmingly backed strike action because they are angry and frustrated. Talks are set to reconvene with Prestwick Airport management this week (Thursday) but we are not hopeful based on their arrogant attitude towards the workforce, while they shamelessly protect the pay packets of directors. All our members want is a fair rise and recognition for their flexibility and unsocial hours worked.”

The airport was taken into public ownership in November 2013 after being purchased by the Scottish Government for £1.

Unite is demanding the Scottish Government ‘practice what it preaches’ because Prestwick’s failure to pay a Real Living Wage, despite being publicly owned, undermines its much-trumpeted Fair Work agenda.

By Andrew Brady

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