Strike action to hit 11 Scottish airports over Christmas holidays

A pay offer by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited was rejected by members of the Unite union.

Strike action to hit Highlands and Islands airports over Christmas holidays iStock

Airport workers across the Highlands and Islands are set for strike action over the festive period amid a pay dispute.

Members of the Unite union at 11 airports will walk out during the winter break, with significant disruption expected.

The union represents staff working for airports under the HIAL (Highlands and Islands Airports Limited) group in the region.

They are; Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Dundee, Inverness, Islay, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumburgh, Tiree and Wick.

Unite members, including those working in fire and rescue, security and administration, will confirm industrial action dates next week.

They voted by 73.5% for strike action and by 92.8% for action short of strike action.

A pay offer of 5% was rejected by union members in the dispute with HIAL.

The company is a public company wholly owned by the Scottish Government.

HIAL described a statement issued to the media by Unite on Friday morning as “unhelpful”, adding that it would create unnecessary anxiety for passengers over the festive period.

The company also said that it was “disappointed” that workers had voted for industrial action, as it said it would do all it can to minimise disruption.

Unite has called on the Government to meet with them, workers and HIAL in order to bring forward an improved offer on pay, as well as working terms and conditions.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, explained that workers will have the “full support” of the union.

“Airport workers across Highland and Island communities simply can’t afford to live on their current wages,” she said.

“To then present them with what amounts to a significant pay cut at a time of rocketing living costs leaves them with no other course but to take a stand.

“The Scottish Government and HIAL have to act to deliver on pay or face a rural workforce crisis.

“Unite’s members working across these eleven airports have emphatically backed industrial action and they will have their union’s full support in their fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

A spokesperson for HIAL said that the offer made to staff “maximised the flexibility” within the pay policy of the Scottish Government.

“Unite’s media statement is unhelpful as it does not explain what industrial action will take place, or the dates it will commence,” they said.

“This makes it difficult for airlines and their customers to plan, creating unnecessary anxiety for passengers and communities over the festive period.

“We recognise the challenges our colleagues face due to inflationary pressures and the cost-of-living crisis.

“Nonetheless, we are disappointed that they have voted for industrial action.

“The enhanced offer we presented maximised the flexibility within the Scottish Government’s pay policy.”

The spokesperson added: “HIAL will do all it can to minimise any disruption caused by industrial action over the festive period and we urge Unite to continue to engage in constructive dialogue and work with us to find a resolution.”

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