The GMB trade union yesterday condemned the use of Gate Gourmet-employed catering workers as strike breakers at Stansted Airport.
Security workers who scan luggage at Stansted began a 24-hour strike in a dispute over pay at 3am yesterday.
The 33 GMB members are seeking a pay rise of about 5%, while their employer, Airfield Services, has offered 1.5%.
GMB regional organiser Gary Pearce told News Line yesterday: ‘The company have brought in catering staff to do the work of security staff.
‘We believe they are operating outside the security guidelines set down by the Department of Transport and BAA.
‘We will be raising this matter in parliament and with the secretary of state for transport.
‘We will inquire how a company can cock a snook at security standards in pursuit of a trade dispute.’
Earlier, the GMB accused Airfield Services bosses of refusing to attend arbitration talks.
GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said it was ‘an act of gross irresponsibility’ for the company not to use the conciliation service Acas to host talks.
He added: ‘Airfield Services is part of the same group as Gate Gourmet which caused severe disruption at Heathrow Airport a few years ago with their macho industrial relations style.
‘We are seeing the same posturing in this dispute, which could be resolved by an inflation level award that would add a mere £300 per week to the company wage bill.
‘The company claim that they cannot afford this amount is not credible since they are owned by 40 major financial institutions worth billions.
‘Total responsibility for disruption and the additional risk to the travelling public and those on planes leaving the airport due to the lack of qualified and trained luggage scanners, lies at the door of Airfield Services.
‘GMB will insist that the company and BAA adhere to the law against strike breaking by using agency staff.’
Meanwhile, bar staff working at the Leeds and Reading music festivals have said they will donate money to the strikers.
A spokesperson for Gate Aviation Services, which owns Airfield, said yesterday there were ‘full contingency arrangements in place to ensure that the usual high standard of security is maintained with minimal disruption for passengers’.