One of the UK’s largest trade unions, Unite, has complained of unfair working practicies and a risk to the public after it emerged some staff employed by a third party to run passenger security at a Scottish airport are “routinely denied breaks”. 

Unite said its members employed by ICTS Central Search at Glasgow Airport reported being denied breaks – which they are contractually granted and protected by Working Time Regulations

“The union is reporting growing incidents of fatigue, exhaustion, and stress due to staff working beyond six hours with no break,” it said in a statement. 

ICTS Central Search employs approximately 250 staff who deal with passengers directly. According to Unite, at least 200 of these staff are union members. 

The staff not only process passengers through security points, but conduct mobile patrols, check deliveries to the airport, and grant access to emergency services. 

Unite’s general secretary Sharon Graham said the denial would not only put undue stress on employees, but open up the flying public to risk. 

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“Unite has been made aware of an alarming situation at Glasgow airport which not only impacts on the wellbeing of workers but the security of all passengers,” she said.

“It is appalling that ICTS workers are being routinely denied their contractual breaks by management, and under no circumstances will this be tolerated.”

In a statement sent to Airport Technology ICTS Central Search did not deny the restriction of breaks given to its staff. 

A spokesperson said: “There has been no compromise to passenger safety.  We are in constant dialogue with the union and we would like to reassure the travelling public that their security, and the welfare of our colleagues, is our priority and there will be no disruptions.”

The union added that without immediate action to rectify the situation it would ballot its members for industrial action. 

Pat McIlvogue, Unite industrial officer, explained: “The ICTS Search workers undertake safety and security critical tasks but how can they do this effectively when they are mentally and physically exhausted? If this situation is not resolved, then Unite will have no option but to ballot our members for industrial action.”