Union bosses have warned of a “looming summer chaos” if staff at Birmingham airport vote to go on strike.
About 100 security officers and terminal technicians employed by Birmingham aAirport, as well as aircraft refuellers employed by Menzies, are being balloted for strike action in a dispute over pay.
“Three quarters of the Birmingham airport workers being balloted are security officers working unsociable shift patterns for as little as £11.50 an hour,” said the union.
“The workers say that without a significant pay rise, recruitment and retention issues at the airport will worsen. This will further the delays the airport is well known for.”
It said the workers received a pay rise 2.8% last year, when the Retail Price Rate (RPI) rate of inflation was 13.8%.
This year, they have been offered 7.75% and a one-off £850 payment.
“However, this is a further real terms pay cut as RPI inflation is still running high at 11.4%,” said the statement from Unite.
“The offer would leave many workers unable to pay their bills as well as causing more staffing shortages.”
The Menzies workers, who drive and operate tankers and refuel more than three quarters of planes at the airport, have rejected a 9% pay offer, following a 6% rise last year.
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.”
Strikes could begin as early as July and could lead to “significant” delays and cancelled flights, warned the union.
Unite regional officer Sulinder Singh added: “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.”
The ballot for strike action for Birmingham airport security guards and terminal technicians closes on June 29. The ballot of Menzies workers closes on July 3.
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.”