Passengers using Luton Airport this summer could experience significant disruption as Unite, the UK’s largest union, announced a series of strike ballots over pay and zero hours' contracts.

Unite is balloting members directly employed by London Luton Airport in several different roles including firefighters and security guards. The strike ballot is in response to the company’s paltry pay offer, despite sky high pay increases for the bosses and record passenger numbers. 

Despite months of negotiations the company has offered to increase workers’ pay by just 2.15 per cent at a time when the Retail Price Index (RPI) is 3.3 per cent. In a consultative ballot workers solidly rejected the company’s offer and backed an industrial action ballot. 

Unite is also balloting its members at Menzies Aviation which undertakes baggage handling at the airport. The dispute concerns the company’s failure to honour a commitment to revisit pay rates due to inflation levels, breaches of the recognition agreement, poor working conditions and a lack of communication. 

Unite’s members employed by Clece Care Service Ltd, which provide assistance at the airport to passengers with reduced mobility will also be balloted in a dispute concerning the use of zero hours contracts, the failure to pay at least the real living wage, and bullying by the station manager. 

Finally, Unite members at Luton Airport’s branches of International Currency Exchange will be balloted over a dispute over the failure to pay a premium/unsocial hours payment for staff working before 06:00. 

All of the separate ballots will open next week and will close on Friday 11 May 2018. If members vote in favour of industrial action strikes could begin by the end of next month. 

The latest financial statements showed that Luton Airport’s directors’ remuneration has increased by 59 per cent and the highest paid director received a pay increase of 48 per cent. 

Workers at Luton Airport have delivered: 

  • An increase in turnover of 10.8 per cent to £163m
  • An increase in pre-tax profits to £44m
  • A rise in profit generated per employee of 9.6 per cent
  • In total 15.8 million passengers used the airport in 2017, an 8.6 per cent increase making 2017 the airport’s busiest year on record.

Unite regional co-ordinating officer Ian Maidlow said: “Luton Airport workers regardless of their employer deserve a decent rate of pay for their work and to be treated fairly by management. These ballots demonstrate that members will no longer accept paltry pay packets and unfair treatment while their bosses constantly squeeze every last penny to boost profits.

“Workers employed directly by Luton airport have announced a strike ballot because they are justifiably up in arms over pay. They are being offered a pay cut in real terms when the airport’s bosses have enriched themselves with sky high pay increases. 

“Turnover at Luton airport is up, company profits are up and passenger numbers are up,  but the workers on the front line are being given a pay cut. London Luton Airport now faces the prospect of a total shutdown if workers vote for strike action. It’s time for management to get around the negotiating table and resolve this dispute.” 


Notes to editors: 

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.  Email: [email protected] 

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.