Security guards employed by Luton airport are threatening a 12-day walk-out in protest of “heavy-handed” management.

The strike is due to start this Thursday, 23 May at 0430 and last until Monday, 3 June at 2059, meaning the walk-out will incorporate the bank holiday weekend.

Members of the Unite union says Luton airport is attempting to push through a new shift pattern affecting around 120 security guards, which it claims will force them to work an extra 15 days per year and means they will only get nine free weekends a year.

A previous walk-out at the beginning of May caused “significant” delays at the airport, according to Unite.

The union is demanding Luton airport suspend the implementation of the new shift pattern and is calling for an increase in recruitment of security guards. Passenger numbers continue to increase, but Unite says the hiring of extra staff has not matched the rise in traffic.

Unite claims 95 per cent of those who took part in the ballot voted for strike action.

Regional officer Jeff Hodge said: “Security guards at Luton airport are preparing to step up their campaign against management’s heavy-handed changes. The airport is trying to force their staff to work significantly more unsocial hours. Workers will only get nine weekends off and will have to work an extra 15 days a year.

“The workers are standing firm and are determined to ensure the airport treats them fairly. The airport must suspend the implementation of the new shift pattern to allow further talks. It’s time for management to get around the negotiating table to reach a fair deal.”

A statement on the Luton airport website says: “We have robust contingency plans in place and following similar action earlier this month there was no disruption to passengers, with an average security wait time of five minutes. We remain open to discussions with the union to avert this industrial action and will update our website if the situation changes.”

Luton airport has faced multiple strikes over the last year from contract staff including baggage handlers and mobility assistance employees.

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