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Strike action now possible at Gatwick Airport as union rejects pay offer

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An ‘overwhelming rejection’ by members of the UK and Ireland’s largest union Unite over a pay offer from the aiport has now increased the possibility of industrial action.

Negotiations over pay began last autumn when Gatwick Aiport Limited proposed a three year deal which woul see workers receive an increase of 2 per cent plus £250 for the first two years with the workforce receiving the consumer price index (CPI) inflation rate and £250 in the final year.

Unite say that there is an ‘additional insult’ as the offer is conditional on the introduction of a new starter rate which would result in new starters being paid up to £7,000 per annum less than staff undertaking the same role.

Unite say over 2,000 members are employed as staff at the airport and include security staff, firefighters, engineers, terminal operatives and surface transport workers.

80 per cent of members turned out to vote and of them 98 per cent rejected the offer.

It it now down to more negotiations between the parties before a decision will be made on whether preparations will begin for a full industrial action ballot.

Unite regional officer Jamie Major said:

“It is now incumbent on Gatwick Airport to come back with a dramatically improved pay offer which meets the workers’ pay claim.

“The airport is fantastically profitable as a result of the hard work of our members and they believe they should be properly rewarded for their hard work and loyalty.

“To even be suggesting the introduction of new starter rates, far below what workers already receive, demonstrates that the airport’s management is putting profits before people.

“Unite’s members have no desire to cause disruption to the travelling public but they will not allow their pay to be cut in real terms.”

Gatwick

New two year train timetable for Gatwick is released as work on new station prepares to begin

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The £150m essential upgrade of Gatwick Airport station by Network Rail to relieve crowding, improve accessibility and reduce delays for commuters and leisure travellers across the South East will see Southern trains doubled in length along coastal routes to Eastbourne, Hastings, Worthing and Littlehampton.

A two-year temporary timetable to make space for the building work, due to start on 17 May and now available online to see, will provide much-needed relief for passengers on the congested coastal routes.

Additionally, Cooksbridge will have its first-ever all-week service as trains begin calling at the station on Sundays. This is a permanent change.

Also, on Saturdays, there will be an extra Thameslink service every hour between Brighton and Cambridge and the extension of an existing Sunday Cambridge to Gatwick Airport service through to Brighton. This will mean additional services at Brighton, Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath, Balcombe, Three Bridges, Gatwick Airport, East Croydon, London Bridge and through to Cambridge.

Further changes to Southern and Gatwick Express services are also required. There will be no off-peak Southern services between Brighton and London Victoria, but passengers will be able to travel with Gatwick Express, using Southern’s Super Off-Peak and Kids for £2 fares, which will be eligible on these services.

In the busiest commuter hour in each of the morning and evening peaks, Gatwick Express services will stay the same. Outside this time there will be two fewer Gatwick Express trains each hour, but the remaining trains will be lengthened to compensate and, from the airport, there will still be six Southern trains every hour to Victoria and eight more Thameslink trains to London Bridge providing sufficient space.

Southern, Gatwick Express and Thameslink is committed to helping passengers with information around the changes and will be running a comprehensive awareness campaign in the coming months.

Passengers can meanwhile check details online at Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express websites. Trains are also be available to view in online journey planners at nationalrail.co.uk.

Angie Doll, Managing Director of Southern and Gatwick Express, said:

“With over 20m passengers now using Gatwick station every year, this upgrade is essential to address overcrowding, improve accessibility and maintain a sustainable, reliable and punctual rail service for visitors and commuters along the route.

“This revised temporary timetable will create room for the work at the station while doubling the length of trains along the coast and retaining as many services as possible, supplemented by additional longer trains, ensuring we still have the services and capacity for our passengers.

“Gatwick supports the economy of the entire South East, bringing international travellers and trade to the region worth £2.7bn, supporting 70,000 jobs.”

Emma Rees, Head of Surface Transport, Gatwick Airport, said:

“A £150m upgrade to Gatwick Airport station is essential to meet growing demand and to reduce delays on the Brighton Mainline and wider region by tackling overcrowding at the station. The size of the station concourse will double, and it will become much easier for passengers to access the railway and airport through wider platforms, five new lifts, eight new escalators, new staircases and a new station entrance.”

Paul Harwood, regional investment director for Network Rail, said:

“The continued popularity and convenience of travelling by rail to Gatwick Airport means the station is now seeing more passengers than it was ever designed to handle. With further growth forecast, the station is in urgent need of improvement so that rail travel to and from the airport can continue to grow and help Gatwick support the local economy even more.

“The timetable changes will enable this vital construction work, allowing us to make the station safer, more accessible and capable of supporting smoother journeys for more trains and passengers long into the future.”

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said:

“Gatwick Airport is the first stop for millions of people visiting the UK, and these upgrades will relieve overcrowding, improve accessibility and reduce delays for holidaymakers and commuters.

“We will closely monitor these works to ensure improvements are completed on time and passenger disruption is kept to a minimum.

“Once complete, the expanded, modern station will be an impressive gateway to Global Britain.”

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