Luton airport passengers face disruption to their Christmas travel plans as workers employed by contractor Wilson James take industrial action in an effort to earn more than poverty pay.

Strike action will begin at 05:00 on Sunday 19 December and end at 04:59 on Thursday 23 December.

Mobility assistance

The Wilson James workers are employed to assist passengers with mobility issues to board and disembark flights. Front of house workers are paid only the minimum wage of £8.91 an hour, while the drivers who transport passengers to and from planes airside and are required to possess a class 2 HGV licence receive just £10 an hour.

Poverty pay rates

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Workers employed by Wilson James at Luton Airport have an important role caring for vulnerable passengers. They should not be expected to undertake it on poverty rates of pay.

"Yet another big business is telling UK workers to get by on breadline wages, and this is just not acceptable.

 “Unite always prioritises the jobs, pay and conditions of its members, which is why Wilson James' workers will be receiving the full support of their union until this dispute is resolved.”

Outsourced contract

Wilson James operates the passenger mobility service on an outsourced contract, tendered by Luton airport. Wilson James recently acquired the contract and Unite understands that Luton airport has refused to increase the value of the contract to fund a pay rise.

A picket line will be in place on the approach to the airport during the dispute.

Lack of cooperation

Unite regional officer Jeff Hodge said: “We have tried to settle this through negotiation but the employer and Luton airport are not cooperating.  This strike will cause considerable disruption to passengers with mobility issues but our members simply can’t endure poverty pay any longer.  

"The cost of living is climbing every day and our members must be able to put food on the table.

 “Even at this late stage the strike and disruption can be avoided.  Wilson James and Luton Airport simply have to come forward with a fair pay offer for our members.”


Notes to editors:

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.