Published on Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Fire fighters threaten Christmas strike at Southend Airport

Unions are warning of flight disruption at Southend Airport over Christmas after fire fighters voted to strike from December 22 to January 6.

Services by both easyJet and Flybe are likely to be affected, said the fire fighters' union GMB. Its members are in a battle with the airport's owners Stobart Aviation over their pay, which they say is between £4,000 and £6,000 a year less than fire service personnel at similar airports in the area.

They also claim they haven't had an increase in their basic pay for almost four years,

Stobart Aviation, part of the Stobart Group, has owned and operated Southend Airport since 2008. In the six months to August 2017 it made a pre-tax profit of £112 million.

The union accepted the rise from £10.8 million the previous year was mainly to the partial disposal of Eddie Stobart Logistics, but it pointed out that passenger numbers at the airport had risen 25% to 610,500.

GMB regional officer Gary Pearce said: "GMB are disappointed that Stobart are failing to meet the aspirations of Southend airport fire fighters on pay."

But London Southend Airport insisted there will be 'absolutely no disruption' to planned services during the festive period.

It said the airport already has contingencies in place to ensure operations will continue completely uninterrupted if strike action goes ahead.

"Members of The Fire Service at London Southend Airport are also fully aware that an above inflation increment of 4.5% of annual salary will be paid to airport staff from March 1, 2018," said a statement.

"This is above the 4.2% pay increase (RPI plus 1%) requested by the GMB. Therefore the trade union is calling for strike action for a pay award lower than one already agreed and implemented."

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