Passengers from Birmingham Airport aiming for Christmas getaways could face travel chaos if workers walk out over a long-delayed pay controversy.
Unite union regional official Peter Coulson warned today that potential disruption could be on the cards from Monday, December 10, if staff vote for industrial action.
Unite yesterday served the airport management with notice of a ballot for action after talks over workers’ first pay rise since February 2009 collapsed amid deadlock.
Mr Coulson warned that a vote in favour would mean that staff would have to take action by December 23 at the latest, and potentially as early as the week beginning December 10.
The Unite official said: "If there is disruption, I would sympathise with those passengers who have paid good money to travel from Birmingham Airport.
"But my priority is looking after our members at the airport who have not had an increase since February 2009.
"I work across a lot of industries and this is the only industry and the only sector where a pay issue has dragged on and on like this."
Mr Coulson said he doubted whether contingency plans already flagged up by the airport would prevent disruption on the site.
"There are very experienced staff such as engineers and technicians who keep the runway operational 24-7; there would be disruption."
A total of 206 workers at the airport will be involved in the ballot, from November 12 to 26.
Unite revealed last month that airport management had sent a letter to staff threatening to withdraw an offer of two and a half per cent, plus a one-off payment of £150, and cut jobs if strike action was taken. An airport spokesman said: "It’s disappointing that an agreement couldn’t be reached despite the company putting forward an opportunity to resolve the issue by increasing its offer to the company by 3.3 per cent.
‘‘We can reassure customers that the airport will remain open. Contingencies have been tested and are in place to minimise any disruption that potential industrial action aims to cause the travelling public."