Unite, Scotland’s biggest union, today (Wednesday, June 22) said it would ballot about 480 workers at Glasgow and Aberdeen airports for strike action.
The move came after 98 per cent of workers rejected proposed changes to the pensions’ schemes operated by the airports’ owner, AGS.
Possible industrial action could disrupt holiday flights over the summer, resulting in unnecessary loss of revenue as Glasgow airport celebrates its 50th anniversary.
AGS Airports is a partnership between Ferrovial and Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA), established in 2014, to acquire Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports.
Unite held a consultative ballot last month with members, following AGS proposals to make significant – and detrimental - changes to the pensions’ schemes that will adversely impact on retirement incomes, given that pensions are, in effect, deferred wages.
The ballot, for strike action and industrial action short of a strike, will close on Wednesday 13 July. The jobs covered at the two airports include security and airfield operations, airside services, firefighters, operations officer and passenger service agent.
Unite tabled a counter proposal to AGS management that maintained a defined benefit scheme, but reduced the employer’s contribution from 44 per cent to 20-21 per cent.
The Unite proposal would have meant a yearly saving over £3.5 million. The proposal was rejected by AGS which then put a further proposal to cut the cost rate further to 17 per cent which equates to a further saving of £640,000.
Unite regional officer Pat McIlvogue said: “Unite has continually tried to negotiate a remedy with AGS over the proposed pensions’ schemes changes that avoids the need for industrial action and disruption at the two airports.
“Unite put forward a proposal, which would save the company £3.5 million-a-year, but despite our repeated attempts to reach an amicable solution our efforts have been met with intransigence.
“Unite has no option but to ballot members for industrial action to protect pension provisions that are deferred wages and to strongly oppose AGS’ proposed imposition.”
The AGS pension proposals are also causing serious concern at Southampton airport where Unite’s members are also considering an industrial action ballot following the failure of the company to negotiate, despite repeated attempts.