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Summer airport chaos?

Potential strike action could cause disruption at Stansted and Glasgow airports
Hajera Blagg, Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

Management intransigence is fuelling the potential for continued airport chaos over the summer holiday period as workers fight back to protect their pay and conditions.


In the latest instance, passenger service agents employed by Stobart Aviation Services Limited on the easyJet contract at Stansted airport have voted by 100 per cent to take strike action in a dispute over pay and union recognition.


The workers, members of Unite, are angry at Stobart’s refusal to pay wages in line with other similar companies that operate out of Stansted airport in Essex and the firm’s unwillingness to recognise Unite for the purposes of collective bargaining.


The company’s hard-line stance and its failure to meaningfully negotiate have led to a breakdown in industrial relations.


The unanimous vote for strike action raises the prospect of disruption and delays for easyJet passengers over the summer if a breakthrough between Stobart and Unite cannot be found in talks tomorrow (July 4).


“This emphatic vote in favour of strike action should leave Stobart Aviation Services in no doubt of the depth of anger felt by our members,” said Unite regional officer Mark Barter.


“Our members work unpaid overtime, experience staffing issues and lack basics, such as drinking water during their long shifts, while being paid up to 20 per cent less for doing the same job as their counterparts in other companies at Stansted,” he added.


“This unacceptable situation has only been compounded by the attitude of bosses at Stobart Aviation Services who have refused to fully honour the trade union recognition agreement that carried over when our members transferred over from Menzies about a year ago.


“We hope that Stobart Aviation Services will do the right thing and avoid the possibility of strike action by engaging meaningfully with Unite to reach a deal on pay and trade union recognition.”



Meanwhile, in Scotland, passenger disruption was narrowly averted after management came to the table at Aberdeen airport in a pay dispute that has now ended. Workers voted by 60 per cent to accept a pay offer on a turnout of 98 per cent.


But a dispute is still ongoing over pay and pensions at Glasgow airport – although strike action was suspended today (July 3) after a new proposal to resolve the dispute has been tabled by Glasgow Airport, which will be put to the workforce this week.


Unite will now hold a consultative ballot of its membership, including airport security officers, airport fire safety, airfield operations officers, and engineering technicians, at Glasgow Airport. The union agreed to also suspend the scheduled days of action on July 5 and July 11 to allow this to take place.


But four strike days remain on the cards if the proposal is rejected.


Commenting Unite regional industrial officer Pat McIlvogue said, “We fully appreciate the inconvenience this action has caused the traveling public but it is our job to robustly challenge the attack on our members’ pension scheme and get the best pay deal possible. It is ultimately up to the membership whether to accept or reject the offer — that’s democracy.”



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