Security staff at Norwich Airport in strike threat

Norwich International Airport terminal. Photo by Simon Finlay. Norwich International Airport terminal. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Thursday, May 22, 2014
6:30 AM

Security staff at Norwich International Airport are threatening to walk out next month in the wake of a pay dispute with contractors Wilson James - but bosses insist that passengers will not be hit and they can cope with any summer disruption.

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The firm, which operates security services on behalf of the airport, is locked in talks with the GMB union whose members have rejected its 2pc pay offer and have been pressing instead for a 4pc deal.

Now workers are set to be balloted on whether to go on strike or take industrial action such as work-to-rule which could begin in June unless a deal can be reached.

About 40 security staff work for the firm, including 28 GMB members employed in check-in and scanner roles, perimeter and airfield security, and ambi-lift duties, ferrying passengers with medical conditions.

Sean Kelly, operations director at Wilson James played down suggestions that the dispute could bring chaos to flights.

He said: “We have had a meeting with staff and unions. Negotiations continue, we have resolved many issues already and negotiations will continue next week.

“We are a large airport security firm with hundreds of aviation security staff,” he added. “I will continue to meet my operational commitments to the airport.

“I wouldn’t envisage any operational impact on the airport. I don’t want to be in that place and I don’t believe that the staff or the unions wan to be in that place either.”

But Ivan Mercer, regional organiser of the GMB union, said members had been frustrated by the firm’s approach to the negotiations and also angered by a take-it-or-leave-it letter sent out to staff.

“We do not want to take industrial action, that’s the last thing we want to do,” he said. “What we don’t want to do is disrupt the airport, but we have got to get the message across. We are hoping that brings the company to the table. We are talking about an international airport where the security staff are earning well below £8 an hour.

“The reality is that we are not actually negotiating with Wilson James because they say they have to deal with Norwich Airport. Our members are getting a little bit fed up with a third party deciding what they can and cannot earn.

“Over the last couple of years wages have fallen below inflation and we put in a claim that brings our members to just below £8 an hour. They have turned around and said they can give us 2pc. Our members overwhelmingly rejected that and are going to ballot for industrial action. They will get their ballot papers around May 28/29 and the first predicted date for action will be in June.”

An airport spokesman said: “Wilson James have given assurances to the airport that we won’t be operationally affected in any way. Passengers can expect it be business as usual during the summer season and we look forward to welcoming them to the airport.”

10 comments

  • I too would rather be a picket than a scab. Good luck to the workers here! Their demands are just

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    marty r

    Friday, May 23, 2014

  • Norwich pretentious airport more like

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    Barny

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • Need to go to Belfast soon and can't get a direct flight there from Norwich have to go via Manchester. Prices are ridiculous ..... £350!! I can get flights and a week in a hotel abroad for that.

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    samphirelover

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • Its International cos it flies into other countries, even one means it goes abroad. Could be worse, we might not have one at all. As for rejecting 2%. They should think themselves lucky to be offered that much, some of us have had 1% to cover 4 years

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    DJ

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • V, cant just get rid of the contractor as it would potentially leave Norwich airport open to litigation. They would need to wait until Wilson James fail to deliver on the terms of the contract. Oh, the reason its called International is simply because in theory its possible to fly to anywhere from Norwich as it has regular flights to Amsterdam which is truly an international airport. I agree tho, its a bit of a joke - a bit like calling Norwich bus station "International" simply because you can get a bus to London......

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    Tootyfrooty

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • Sorry marty r. The lack of punctuation in my post suggests that you are Wilson James' operational director - which of course you aren't : (

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    angela

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • @ marty r the operations director at Wilson James (the company operating security services on behalf of the airport) is reported as saying "We are a large airport security firm with hundreds of aviation security staff - I will continue to meet my operational commitments to the airport." £8 per hour target by GMB union members doesn't seem unreasonable. If the strike goes ahead and is well supported,, does the comment from Wilson James suggest they have considered bringing in scab labour? The GMB target is £8 per hour.- I'd rather be a picket than a scab. Good luck to GMB workers.

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    angela

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • International Airport...is that a joke?

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    dave123

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • If the "bosses insist that passengers will not be hit and they can cope with any summer disruption", why then are they employing the staff at all if they can do without them with no problems?

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    marty r

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • Get rid of the contractor and replace it with another company.

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    "V"

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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