Civil Aviation Authority staff who are members of the Prospect union will be balloted over industrial action after the regulator tabled a 5% pay offer for 2023-24.
Union leaders said the ballot would be a first-of-its-kind at the CAA, which has around 600 staff. But they said the move was necessary in the face of significantly higher inflation and following “10 years of pay degradation” that had seen the value of earnings fall by 37% since 2011.
Prospect said CAA employees had agreed to take a pay cut in the early stages of Covid-19 to enable the regulator to continue to operate. But it added that the organisation, which is a public corporation sponsored by the Department for Transport, had been able to increase its revenue by £10m in the last financial year.
Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy said the union had expressed serious concerns that the 5% pay offer would worsen an “ongoing recruitment and retention crisis” at the regulator and threaten its ability to fulfil its statutory responsibility for aviation safety.
“More than a decade of real-terms pay cuts have led to a cost-of-living crisis for our members at the CAA,” he said.
“Their goodwill in taking a pay cut during the initial stages of the pandemic to enable their employer to continue to function has not been met in kind by the CAA.
“We will not hesitate to take industrial action to win a better deal for our members and restore the CAA’s status as a world-class aviation regulator.”
Prospect’s move comes at a time when staff in other parts of the civil service are being consulted on improved pay offers tabled by ministers.
The union suspended strike action over pay for its mainstream departmental members following the government’s offer of a non-consolidated £1,500 cost-of-living payment for rank-and-file staff for 2022-23, sweetening the 2%-3% offer for that year and the 4.5%-5% offer tabled for 2023-24.
PCS, the civil service’s biggest union, is set to ballot its members on ending industrial action in light of the improved offer next month.
Earlier this month, the government said it would accept the recommendations of the Senior Salaries Review Body, which proposed giving members of the Senior Civil Service a raise worth at least 5.5% for 2023-24.
Its recommendations also included a further uplift equivalent to 1% of the SCS paybill to be directed at fixing “pay anomalies” among senior officials in the “lower pay ranges”.
Civil Service World sought a CAA response to Prospect’s announcement of a ballot over industrial action. It had not provided one at the time of publication.