Poverty pay strikes by Luton Airport passenger assistance workers have been extended into the New Year, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Tuesday).
A new round of strike action by workers employed by contractor Wilson James will begin on December 31 and end on January 4. The Unite union says 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 and are required to possess a class 2 HGV licence receive just £10 an hour.
Luton Airport passengers are already facing disruption to their Christmas travel plans, after the workers began their first-round of industrial action on December 19 , with the strikes ending on December 23.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite’s Wilson James members at Luton Airport work hard ensuring vulnerable passengers get on their flights and have the best possible experience while they are at the airport.
“This is another case of a major employer undervaluing the valuable services of its workers and expecting them to subsist on poverty pay.
“Our members' jobs, pay and conditions are this union’s top priorities, which is why Wilson James' workers can rely on Unite’s full support in their fight for decent pay.”
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 strikes.
Unite regional officer Jeff Hodge said: “Our members take pride in the work they do and are disappointed they will not be on hand to assist passengers.
“Unfortunately, they have been forced into this position by Wilson James’ and Luton airport’s continued refusal to acknowledge that the current rate of pay is not enough for people to live on.
“This matter can be resolved and any further disruption to passengers avoided but only if Wilson James and Luton airport put forward an offer our members can accept.”
A spokesperson for Wilson James said: “Wilson James remains committed to transparent engagement with our colleagues and our client Luton Airport, including our union partners. Discussions continue in this spirit.”
A Luton Airport spokesman said: “Our priority is ensuring all passengers continue to have a smooth journey through the airport.”