STRIKE action at an airport is increasingly likely as a new pay offer was rejected by workers.

Unite the Union labelled the proposed rise of two per cent as an “insult” and called for improvements to be made.

A spokesman said: “Following pay negotiations which began last autumn, Gatwick Airport Limited (GAL) proposed a three year deal which would have seen workers receive an increase of just two 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.

“To add insult to injury 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.”

More than 2,000 union members who are employed at the airport voted 98 per cent in favour of rejecting the offer.

The union said it is now seeking an improved pay offer or it will “begin preparations 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.”

A Gatwick spokesman said: “We are keen to see an agreement reached and for the focus to remain on delivering an excellent experience for our passengers this summer.”