Two separate groups of workers at Gatwick airport are to begin balloting for industrial action over poverty pay rates. If the workers vote for strike action then passengers at Gatwick are set to face delays and disruption later this summer.

Poverty pay for baggage scanning

Unite is conducting a ballot of over 100 members working for ICTS, who are employed to scan passengers’ luggage for explosive materials and other dangerous and prohibited materials. The workers are paid just £8.50 an hour and are seeking an increase of 50 pence an hour so that they are paid the real living wage of £9 an hour.

Unite is also balloting members employed by outsourcing giants ISS. The workers are involved in maintaining the facilities at Gatwick airport for example ensuring that toilets have the appropriate materials, as well as assisting with moving luggage and rearranging furniture.

Pay promise broken

The ISS workers are currently paid just £8.49 an hour and have been forced to ballot for industrial action after management reneged on a pay offer. The workers had agreed a two stage pay increase, with the second tranche due in April 2019. However this payment was not made, the manager who arranged the original deal has left the organisation and the company has failed to honour the pay pledge.

Ballot papers for both strikes will be sent to members on Friday 12 July and the deadline for their return is Friday 26 July. If members vote for industrial action, then strikes could begin in mid-August, which would inevitably create disruption at the airport.

Line in the sand

Unite regional officer Jamie Major said: “It is time to end poverty pay at Gatwick airport.

“The owners of Gatwick airport are making millions every year while they are allowing workers on their contracts to be paid rates below what workers can actually live on.

“It is astonishing that workers who undertake such crucial safety critical work as scanning luggage, are paid so little for the work they do.

“If strikes go ahead then passengers will inevitably experience delays and a poorer service but this is in the hands of the contractors and Gatwick airport.

“Workers are drawing a line in the sand and stating clearly they will no longer accept such miserable rates of pay.”

Gatwick airport made profits of £148 million in the last financial year an increase of £88 million on the previous 12 months.


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 union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey..