Staff at London's Stansted airport to vote on strike over pay

The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Stansted
A plane carrying farm workers from Romania comes in to land at Stansted Airport, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, Stansted, Britain, April 16, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge/File Photo

LONDON, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Staff at London's Stansted will begin voting on Friday whether to take strike action in a dispute over pay, the Unite Union said, threatening disruption at one of Britain's busiest airports.

Unite said more than 1,000 workers, including security officers, cleaners, firefighters and maintenance staff at Stansted would be balloted, with voting closing Sept. 19.

The ballot comes after workers rejected a pay offer of 7.5% plus a one-off 250 pound ($296) payment, the union said. Inflation topped 10% in July.

"Our members consider Stansted’s pay offer to fall short of their needs to pay simple household bills," Unite regional coordinating officer Mark Robinson said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Stansted Airport said it was "surprised and disappointed" by news of the ballot but was committed to reach an agreement that recognised staff contributions and maintained financial stability after a challenging period during the pandemic.

"This is the very same pay offer we agreed with Unite, and which it strongly recommended its members voted in favour of as recently as 20 July," the spokesperson added.

A strike at Stansted could cause further disruption for an aviation industry struggling with staff shortages at a time of surging demand, which has resulted in flight cancellations and longer wait times at airports.

Unite said strike action would cause "significant disruption" or could even close Stansted airport.

Workers in a range of sectors across Britain have taken or threatened industrial action in disputes over pay this summer. On Friday, more than 115,000 Royal Mail (RMG.L) postal workers began a four-day strike across Britain. read more

($1 = 0.8440 pounds)

Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar, Editing by Kylie MacLellan and Alistair Smout

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