London City airport has defended its staffing policies during a three-month shutdown against union claims that furloughed workers were losing agreed pay.

The Unite union alleged the airport was “trying to move the goalposts” to cut staff pay.

Unite regional officer Mercedes Sanchez said: “London City airport committed to paying its workers 100% while they were on furlough. It is now guilty of trying to move the goalposts, using sleight of hand to reduce employees’ earnings.

“Suggestions that overtime pay cannot be included under the government’s job retention scheme are simply untrue.

“Workers are thousands of pounds out of pocket.

“If City airport refuses to resolve the matter then Unite will have no option but to take the company to an employment tribunal to defend our members from this wage raid.”

The accusation came as the airport reopened on Sunday after being closed since March 25 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  

An airport spokesperson said: “This crisis is unlike any our industry has faced. Despite revenues being severely hit and the airport ceasing operations for three months, we have continued to pay our staff 100% of their salary and worked hard to provide support in all sorts of constructive ways.

“To suggest the airport ‘pockets’ workers’ earning is wholly untrue. Every penny received under the job retention scheme is passed on to the employee.

“Unite has not raised this with us before issuing its press release. Two employees have raised queries directly with the airport; both received a detailed explanation and thanked us for taking the time to respond fully.

“Of the very few names on the collective grievance, one does not even work for London City airport and two are the same person. Half of those who have signed would be worse off under the calculation Unite would like us to use.

“Indeed, 87% of our employees have been better off under the calculation we have used, as opposed to Unite’s suggestion.

“We are working with the few employees whose pay has been effected, to provide useful support. The majority of whom have seen only a small reduction.

“A change to the job retention scheme guidance, which allowed for the possibility of including voluntary overtime, led us to work with advisors and HMRC to review our model of calculation.

“We are currently assessing the viability of including voluntary overtime. This is categorically the right way to operate. Unite’s suggestion that we should claim money, when we are not clear we can, is wrong.

“The crisis our industry is going through has never been seen before. We are doing everything we can to navigate it successfully, to protect jobs and our staff’s incomes both now and in the long term. Unite’s misleading claims do not help.”