The Unite union has announced members have voted to strike in a dispute with airports operator BAA over pay.


In a press conference held at 4pm today, the UK’s biggest union revealed the result of a ballot of 6,000 members. They have voted by three to one in favour of strike action.


Some 3,054 valid ballot papers were returned.


Unite national officer for civil aviation Brian Boyd said: “This clear mandate means if a strike goes ahead BAA faces the shutdown of six airports. We want BAA to return to the negotiating table and come back with a better offer.”


The union has described BAA’s offer of a 1% pay rise this year, after members accepted a pay freeze in 2009 as “paltry”, “measily” and “confrontational”.


Unite balloted 6,185 staff including security staff, engineers, firefighters and support staff at BAA airports including Heathrow, Stansted, Southampton, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.


BAA has previously said that its airports will have to close if the strike action goes ahead.


The union must give seven days notice of a walkout. However, a strike could still be avoided if BAA offers an improved pay deal.


Prime minister David Cameron has said the strike would cause “nothing but damage”.