Summer shutdown looms for Birmingham Airport says Unite

Unite the union has warned that strike action at Birmingham Airport would cause a “summer shutdown” as 100 staff are being balloted to take action over pay.

Security officers and terminal technicians employed by the airport, as well as aircraft refuellers employed by Menzies could begin strikes as early as July and would severely impact Birmingham Airport’s operations, leading to significant delays and cancelled flights.

Unite the union says that three quarters of the Birmingham Airport workers being balloted are security officers working unsociable shift patterns for as little as £11.50 an hour. The workers say that without a significant pay rise, recruitment and retention issues at the airport will worsen.

Last year, staff received a pay rise of 2.8% when the real rate of inflation was running at 13.8% – equating to an 11 per cent pay cut. This year, they have been offered 7.75% and a one off £850 payment.

But Unite says this is a further real terms pay cut as RPI inflation is still running high at 11.4%, leaving many unable to pay bills.

The Menzies workers, who drive and operate tankers and refuel over three quarters of planes at the airport, have rejected a nine per cent pay offer.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Both Birmingham Airport and Menzies can afford to give their workers a fair pay rise and that is exactly what needs to happen.

“Unite workers at Birmingham Airport are fed up with pay cuts, especially when they know both companies have combined profits of more than £80 million. These workers will receive their union’s total support during this dispute.”

The ballot for strike action for Birmingham Airport security guards and terminal technicians closes on 29 June. The ballot of Menzies workers closes on 3 July.

Unite regional officer Sulinder Singh said: “Strike action would cause a summer shutdown at Birmingham Airport but this would be entirely the fault of the airport’s leadership and Menzies. Many of the workers at the airport are really struggling to make ends meet.

“This is simply unacceptable when both companies have enough money to pay them fairly. The employers need to come back to the negotiating table with offers that are acceptable to our hard-pressed members.”

A spokesperson for Birmingham Airport said: “We note the union’s decision to ballot for strike action – despite our current pay offer being well above the current UK average.

“A substantial majority of our workforce has already had a significant pay rise having accepted the company’s offer.

“We will continue to discuss with this union ways to find an acceptable outcome.

“In the event 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 at least two hours before their flight departure time, and in line with their airline’s advice.”

A Menzies spokesperson told “We are disappointed at the decision taken by the union to step away from negotiations and ballot for industrial action, despite our commitment to seek a resolution to agree a pay increase for our Birmingham Airport team.

“The current offer of 9% is on top of the 6.5% pay increase we agreed last year. An alternative offer equivalent to a potential 11.5% pay rise, which included a performance bonus, was also rejected. We are speaking to our partners and preparing contingency plans to minimise the potential impact industrial action could have on the airport and passengers should the ballot be confirmed.”