Birmingham Airport strikes to start in July - how will it affect holidaymakers & business travel?

Around 100 security officers and terminal technicians at Birmingham Airport are going on an all out strike over pay in July

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Around 100 security officers and terminal technicians employed by Birmingham Airport have voted to begin an all out continuous strike action fromJuly 18.

Unite the Union said the Birmingham Airport workers are striking after facing two years of substantial pay cuts. They said the strikes will cause serious security delays for passengers at Birmingham Airport, where substantial redevelopment work is underway to improve screening for flights.

But Birmingham Airport has disputed Unite’s claims over pay saying that the wrong measure of inflation has been used. It has also accused the union of breaching the terms of their bargaining agreement. It has also reassured passengers that their travel plans will not be seriously affected by the strikes.

Here’s what Unite the Union has said about the strikes at Birmingham Airport in more detail

Three quarters of the striking Birmingham Airport workers are security officers. They union said they work unsociable shift patterns and are paid from £11.50 an hour. The workers say that without a significant pay rise, recruitment and retention issues at the airport will worsen. This will further cause delays at the airport.

The union pointed out that last year, the airport workers received a pay rise of 2.8 per cent when the rate of inflation, RPI, was running at 13.8 per cent – equating to an 11 per cent pay cut. This year, they have been offered 7.75 per cent and a one off £850 payment. But the Union says this is a further real terms pay cut as RPI inflation is still running high at 11.3 per cent. They say the offer would leave many workers unable to pay their bills as well as causing more staffing shortages.

The union warns that the strikes will severely impact Birmingham Airport’s security and terminal maintenance operations leading to delays for carriers such as TUI, EasyJet, Wizz, Ryanair, Lufthansa and Emirates.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Birmingham Airport has returned to profitability but expects its low paid workers to swallow a real terms pay cut after successive attacks on their wages and terms and conditions. This is completely unacceptable at a time of rising living costs. Unite’s laser-like focus on jobs, pay and conditions means these workers will receive the full unflinching support of their union as they strike for a fair pay rise.”

Birmingham Airport.Birmingham Airport.
Birmingham Airport.

Unite regional officer Sulinder Singh added: “The employer bears full responsibility for the disruption to passengers now facing serious security delays at Birmingham Airport. This dispute could have been resolved very early on if Birmingham Airport had put forward a pay offer that reflected the deterioration in wages its workers have experienced. There is still time for that to happen, but the airport must table a deal our members can accept.”

What has Birmingham Airport said about the security and technical staff strikes?

A spokesperson for Birmingham Airport said: “We note the union, representing a minority of our workforce, is threatening strike action from July 18 - despite our current pay offer being well above the current UK average.

“The union’s call for strike action is surprising as it breaches the terms of the bargaining agreement, which lays out the steps for resolving such disputes. We call on the union to honour the terms of the existing bargaining agreement.

“However, if strike action does take place, we are confident the impact will be limited, and we do not anticipate any cancellations. Our advice to customers remains to arrive at the airport in line with guidance from their airline.”

Birmingham Airport disputed Unite’s information on inflation saying it was not correct. The airport said: “The RPI (retail price index) does not meet international statistical standards and, as such, was declassified as a national statistic by the ONS (Office for National Statistics) in 2013. ONS recommends using CPI (consumer price index) instead.

“In 2021/22 CPI ran at an average of 4%, and our pay award to Birmingham Airport staff was 3.8%. This is orders of magnitude away from the claims the union is making.

“Average CPI across 2022/23 was 10%. This is the percentage we offered (7% consolidated plus 3% non-consolidated) to Birmingha Airport colleagues in March. While many non-unionised colleagues have accepted this offer, the union rejected it and continues to pursue 15%.

“Our bargaining agreement with the union provides for a second stage of talks, before any strike action, and a further step for ACAS involvement, subject to both parties agreeing to this. We have invited the union to a second-stage meeting. We hope the union will honour this agreement and talk rather than departing from process and threatening strike action.”