Airport workers to be balloted over industrial action in pay dispute

Workers at Glasgow Airport are to be balloted over strike action in a dispute over pay and pensions.

The trade union Unite – which represents around 500 workers at the base – has informed bosses of its plans after concluding it is the only way to defend the pension scheme and “secure a decent pay rise”.

The airport said its pay offer is “entirely fair and reasonable” and voiced its disappointment over the union’s decision.

Unite said the airport’s offer of a 1.5% pay rise was 100% rejected in a consultative ballot with a turnout of 97%.

An increased offer of 1.8% was also recently rejected by a union committee.

Proposals to close the defined benefit (DB) pension scheme were rejected on the same scale in the consultative ballot.

According to the union, the pension plan breaches an agreement made in 2016 to keep the scheme open to existing members.

Glasgow Airport said it is incorrect to suggest it has broken agreements with Unite over DB pensions.

If the ballot is successful, Unite members are expected to take action during the mid-April to mid-October period, which covers Easter and the summer holidays.

Pat McIlvogue, Unite regional industrial officer, said: “The proposal to close the final salary pension scheme at Glasgow Airport breaks all existing agreements we have with the company.

“The company have reneged on their word as only three years ago Glasgow Airport agreed to retain its final salary pension scheme.

“The offer on pay is an insult to our members. Glasgow Airport are asking our members to take a real-terms pay cut while they enjoy pre-tax profits of £91 million.

“This is corporate avarice of the highest level and totally unacceptable.”

He said the union is open to further talks with airport bosses to resolve the situation.

“If there is widespread disruption over the Easter and summer months then the public should know now that the company is fully to blame for the situation,” he added.

Glasgow Airport, which is owned and operated by AGS Airports, said the proposed 1.8% pay offer is in line with the current rate of inflation.

A spokesman said: “We have made an offer that is entirely fair and reasonable against a backdrop of wider challenges within the industry which have resulted in declining passenger numbers for Glasgow.

“Our pension consultation, which has already been extended willingly by the company to ensure full engagement, is not due to close until April 14.

“We are therefore disappointed at Unite’s decision to proceed straight to an industrial ballot, particularly given that they have not attended a single meeting to date in respect of the consultation.”

He added: “At no point have we broken any agreements with Unite in regards to the DB pension arrangements and to suggest otherwise is simply incorrect.

“AGS Airports opened the pension consultation in January with employees, their trade union and elected representatives regarding a proposal to close the company’s final salary (defined benefit) pension scheme to future accrual.

“Of the 871 people employed by AGS, only 177 are members of the current scheme, however, with employer contributions anticipated to rise by more than 40% it is simply no longer affordable or sustainable.”