Victory for Luton Airport workers over pay freeze threat

The contracted workers took strike action in December

By Lynn Hughes
Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 12:48 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 12:51 pm

Strike action by contracted workers at Luton Airport has paid off.

Workers employed by contractor Wilson James, who undertake passenger mobility services at the airport, have secured a significant pay increase following the action in December.

The workers took four days of strike action at the end of 2021 after the company tried to implement a pay freeze. Following negotiations the front of house workers at the company were offered a 4.3 per cent increase while the drivers, who have to possess a HGV 2 licence, will receive a 20 per cent increase.

London Luton Airport

Prior to the pay deal, the front of house staff were on the minimum wage rate of £8.91 an hour while the drivers were paid only £10 an hour.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This pay deal demonstrates what can be achieved when workers stand together. Our members at Wilson James have transformed a planned pay freeze into a significant pay increase.

“Despite the challenges currently faced by the aviation industry, Unite will always fight to defend and improve the jobs, pay and conditions of its members.”

In addition to the wage increase, workers will now also benefit from an improved sick pay scheme which will provide 80 per cent of earnings for two weeks.

The offer was approved by Unite members following a ballot.

Unite regional officer Jeff Hodge said: “Our members at Wilson James undertake an important customer-facing role, supporting and assisting vulnerable passengers using Luton Airport. It is only right that they are paid properly for their work.

“This was an important victory because it sends a crystal clear message across Luton Airport that Unite will always support its members when they make a stand against low pay.”

At the time of the strikes, a spokesperson for Wilson James told us: “Wilson James remains committed to transparent engagement with our colleagues and our client Luton Airport, including our union partners. Discussions continue in this spirit.”