Gatwick faces the threat of a spring strike after workers rejected a pay offer.

More than 2,000 members of the Unite union employed as security staff, firefighters, terminal operatives, surface transport workers and engineers, voted by 98% to reject the offer on a turnout of almost 80%.

The union warned that the workers are moving towards industrial action, following the “overwhelming rejection” of the pay offer from the airport.

Gatwick has proposed a three-year deal following pay negotiations which began last autumn.

This would have seen staff 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, according to Unite.

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The offer is claimed to be conditional on the introduction of a new starter rate which would result in new recruits being paid up to £7,000 a year less than staff undertaking the same role.

The union tabled a two-year pay claim for a five per cent increase from October 1, 2019 and a further five per cent increase from October this year.

Unite said it is seeking an urgent meeting with the company and an improved pay offer.

“If this is not forthcoming then Unite will begin preparations for a full industrial action ballot,” the union warned.

“If a full industrial action ballot takes place then strike action could begin during the spring and would result in widespread disruption at the airport.”

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 spokesperson 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.”