Defined Benefit 

Airport workers to strike over DB scheme closure

Airport workers to strike over DB scheme closure

Unite union members working at Aberdeen airport have voted for strike action over proposals to close the defined benefit pension scheme.

In January 2019 Aberdeen airport issued a 60-day consultation on closing the DB pension scheme which Unite says broke an Acas agreement made in 2016 to keep the scheme open to existing members. 

A spokesperson for Aberdeen International Airport said: “It’s important to note there is no such thing as an Acas agreement. The trade unions are referring to an agreement made with the company in 2016 and which AGS Airports has honoured in full. In the event of industrial action we have robust contingency plans to ensure there would be no disruption for our airlines and passengers.”

There has been no agreement on the proposals regarding the pension scheme so the consultation, which was originally scheduled to close on 14 April, has been extended to accommodate further discussions.

Members supported strike action by 88.3 per cent on a 79.5 per cent turnout. 

Shauna Wright, Unite regional industrial officer, said: “After this resounding result in favour of strike action at Aberdeen airport, AGS should be left in no doubt about the strength of feeling among Unite members.” 

The airport is part of AGS Airports Limited group, which also owns Glasgow and Southampton airports, with all three airports being affected by the pension proposal.

Although progress has been made through the Acas with AGS Airports tabling a pay offer of 3 per cent for Aberdeen International and Glasgow airports, the issue of the DB scheme remains an issue, said Ms Wright.

“We recognise the movement on pay by AGS, but the sticking point remains the attack on our members’ pension scheme. Talks through Acas are ongoing and Unite, once again, encourages the company to use this period constructively to find an agreeable resolution to this dispute,” she said.

“But, if the company doesn't, then they know that our members are prepared to fight to protect their hard earned pensions through strike action or action short of a strike during the busy holiday season.”

“Clearly we’re disappointed at the result of the ballot, particularly as many staff will have cast their vote based on the initial pay offer of 1.8% which was subsequently increased to 3%. This was in line with the demands of the unions. During talks at Acas, the company also significantly increased its offer of compensation to pension scheme members, however, we remain open to dialogue and talks are set to continue,” said the airport's spokesperson.

amy.austin@ft.com