by Hugh Morris, The Daily Telegraph, October 18, 2016
British holidaymakers are facing the prospect of travel chaos in the run up to Christmas after unions at Gatwick moved to shut down the airport over a pension dispute.
Firefighters, security staff and maintenance workers are preparing to vote on strike action, after Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), which owns Gatwick, said it would close their final salary pension scheme because of a reported £90million shortfall.
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A security worker at the London airport told the Sun that GIP was trying to bulldoze the move through without a discussion with the unions. “If there is no fire service it could shut down the whole airport,” the worker said.
A spokesperson for Unite said that members were “understandably angry”. Earlier this year, Gatwick announced a 77 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £141million.
“Gatwick is highly profitable and we believe rather than closing the scheme, steps can be made to make up the modest shortfall in the scheme,” the spokesperson said.
Unions are preparing to vote on strike action but would need to give Gatwick at least seven days notice before any walk out.
A spokesperson for Gatwick said: "Gatwick Airport, like any business, will regularly monitor reward packages to ensure that they remain competitive and to safeguard the long-term future for our employees, passengers and local community.
"We fully appreciate that pensions are a personal and sensitive topic and it goes without saying that we are taking this forward in a collaborative manner. We will continue to engage, consult and collect the views of employees and encourage members of the defined benefits plan to use the consultation process to air views, understand the issues facing the scheme and ask questions."
The south London airport is currently vying with Heathrow for permission to build a new runway, with a decision expected this month . Gatwick currently handles about 42 million passengers a year, but has a capacity for 45 million.
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This article was written by Hugh Morris from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.