Highlands and Islands airport workers walk out in festive strikes

Unite members at 11 airports under the HIAL banner are to walk out on Monday and Thursday.

Highlands and Islands airport workers set to walk out in festive strikes iStock

Airport workers across the Highlands and Islands are to walk out on the first day of strike action amid a dispute over pay.

Passengers have been urged to check journeys before travelling to any of Scotland’s most remote airports on Monday and Thursday while workers undertake industrial action in a dispute over pay.

Members of Unite the union across 11 airports under the HIAL (Highlands and Islands Airports Limited) including those working in fire and rescue, security and administration are involved in the strike after voting 73.5% in favour.

HIAL bosses said they were “disappointed” in the decision to go ahead with the strike, but Unite said a tabled 5% rise was “unacceptable”.

Barra, Benbecula, and Sumburgh airports will be closed on Monday and Thursday between 00.01 and 23.59 on both days.

Stornoway Airport will operate on a limited basis, opening between 13.00 and 19.45 on both days, while Kirkwall Airport is open between 07.15 and 13.00 on both days for inter-island flights only.

However, Campbelltown, Dundee, Inverness, Islay, Tiree and Wick John O’Groats will all remain open on strike days.

Inglis Lyon, HIAL’s managing director said: “We apologise in advance for the inevitable disruption this action by Unite colleagues will cause for our airlines and passengers.

“Whilst recognising the financial challenges our colleagues face, we are disheartened that they will be taking strike action which will greatly inconvenience our passengers and local communities so close to the festive holiday period.

“We will liaise closely with our local teams, airlines, and partners to determine what can be done to minimise the disruption on both days. Meantime, all communication channels remain open in a bid to avoid this strike action. However, I would urge anyone intending to travel on these dates to keep in touch with their airline.”

Shauna Wright, Unite industrial officer said: “Unite does not accept that HIAL, a private limited company wholly-owned by the Scottish Government, does not have the ability to increase the offer.

“Claims previously made that it is bound by funding obligations set by the Scottish Government, will not placate our members or settle this dispute.

“Unite is therefore calling on the Scottish Government as a matter of urgency to meet with us, the workers and HIAL and to put forward additional funding that will improve pay, terms and conditions in the Highlands and Islands and bring an end to this dispute.”

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