Stop Taxpayer-Funding for Cardiff Airport Until They Pay the Real Living Wage

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Cardiff Airport was bought by the Welsh Government in 2013 using £52 million of taxpayers' money and is operated by Cardiff Airport Ltd.

Citizens Cymru Wales recently discovered that Cardiff Airport Ltd does not pay the Real Living Wage (£8.75) to many of its staff.  We were shocked to discover that dozens of the security staff (who keep us all safe when we fly by screening passengers and luggage) are paid a poverty wage of £8.01 an hour - less than some of the workers serving coffee in the Airport's cafe!  Due in large measure to their hard work and professionalism, Cardiff Airport was recently awarded Best Airport (under 3 million passengers) in the UK and 7th Happiest Airport in the world yet they remain on poverty pay.

I've met with dozens of the Airport workers over the past few months and they have described to me the difficult choices they have to make as the cost of living increases and their pay does not keep pace with the Real Living Wage.  They are not talking about luxuries if they got paid £8.75 an hour - they are talking about being able to buy fresh food for their families, heat their homes in the Winter, and travel to care for relatives in other parts of Wales.  Last year they received a 16p hourly pay rise, and expect to receive the same this year.  The Real Living Wage rose by 30p last year, and may well rise again.  This means the Airport is further from paying the Real Living Wage than it has ever been.

We estimate it would cost just £200,000 to introduce the Real Living Wage at Cardiff Airport.  Think that sounds a lot? Well it is less than 0.4% of the £52 million of taxpayers' money used to purchase it. Also, the Airport recently boasted that it was spending £4 million upgrading its car park! As taxpayers, our money is being used to bankroll a company that is paying poverty wages to its staff - people who live in our communities, have kids in our schools and are members of our churches and community organisations.  It says they don't deserve decent pay until the company has turned a profit - a principle we don't see applied to the rest of the Airport staff.

We requested a meeting with Debra Barber, CEO of Cardiff Airport Ltd, during Living Wage Week in November.  She replied ignoring our request to meet, stating that the Airport was 'committed to working towards honouring the Real Living Wage', so long as the Airport made a profit, and not before the end of 2020 at the earliest.  A statement was released to the media claiming that the issue had been resolved.  The Airport Management warned workers not to get involved in the Living Wage campaign or face disciplinary action.  

When we met with the Airport Security Workers they were incensed - while sounding positive, Ms Barber's statement contained only the woolliest of intentions regarding the Real Living Wage, but it did contain a cast-iron guarantee of poverty wages for at least three more Christmases until the end of 2020.  

So today (Wednesday December 20th) a delegation of leaders from Citizens Cymru Wales went to the Airport with a Christmas Card for Debra Barber (which included a signed statement from 29 of the Airport Workers) and sang some Living Wage-themed Christmas carols. We hope it will encourage her to stop paying poverty wages and to put people before profit.  Ms Barber has now agreed to meet with Citizens Cymru Wales and the Security Workers in early 2018, and has said she is now "totally committed" to introducing the Real Living Wage by April 2020 at the latest.  That is too long for the workers to wait - we want the Airport to have accredited as a Living Wage employer by November 2018.

In the meantime, we are petitioning Ken Skates AM, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport, to withhold any further financial support for Cardiff Airport Ltd until they have accredited with the Living Wage Foundation as a Real Living Wage employer.  We know that Mr Skates is a supporter of the Real Living Wage and Welsh Government is an accredited Living Wage employer.  The Welsh Government has played a lead role in persuading other organisations to pay the Living Wage, and we hope that Mr Skates will follow the example of his colleague the Education Secretary, who used her influence to persuade all of Wales' Universities to commit to pay the Real Living Wage earlier this year.

We therefore call on Ken Skates AM to withhold further Welsh Government funding for Cardiff Airport Ltd until they accredit as a Real Living Wage employer.



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