Luton airport faces the threat of “significant disruption” this summer as the UK’s largest union announced a series of strike ballots over pay and zero hours’ contracts.

Members of the Unite union directly employed by the airport in several different roles including firefighters and security guards are being balloted in a dispute over pay.

Unite is also balloting its members at Menzies Aviation which undertakes baggage handling at the airport.

Members of the union employed by Clece Care Service, which provide assistance at the airport to passengers with reduced mobility, will also be balloted in a row over zero hours contracts.

Unite members at Luton airport’s branches of International Currency Exchange are also to be balloted over a dispute over unsocial hours payments for staff working before 6am.

All of the separate ballots will open next week and close on May 11.

Strikes could begin by the end of next month if members vote in favour of industrial action.

Unite regional co-ordinating officer Ian Maidlow said: “Luton airport workers regardless of their employer deserve a decent rate of pay for their work and to be treated fairly by management.

“These ballots demonstrate that members will no longer accept paltry pay packets and unfair treatment while their bosses constantly squeeze every last penny to boost profits.

“Workers employed directly by Luton airport have announced a strike ballot because they are justifiably up in arms over pay.

“Turnover at Luton airport is up, company profits are up and passenger numbers are up, but the workers on the front line are being given a pay cut.

“London Luton airport now faces the prospect of a total shutdown if workers vote for strike action. It’s time for management to get around the negotiating table and resolve this dispute.”

A Luton airport spokesman said: “Given we have made a revised pay offer in line with the current rate of inflation at 2.5% and negotiations are ongoing, it is disappointing to see Unite balloting for industrial action.

“Our staff receive a remuneration package in line with the rest of the market, including a competitive salary, private health insurance and a generous pension scheme.

a“In addition, our staff receive a share of profits, which this year is likely to be in the region of £5,000 for every qualifying employee.”