Highland and Island airport workers announce pre-Christmas strike dates

Union bosses have demanded talks with the Scottish Government “as a matter of urgency” as they announced strike action which will hit airports across the highlands and islands in the run-up to Christmas.

Unite said its members working for Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (Hial) would stage two, 24-hour walkouts as part of their dispute over pay, with these due to take place on Monday December 19 and Thursday December 22.

The action will involve a variety of workers at the 11 airports: Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Dundee, Inverness, Islay, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumburgh, Tiree and Wick; with those working in the fire and rescue expected to be part of the protest, along with security and administration staff.

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It comes after the union members rejected the 5 per cent pay rise they have been offered, with almost three quarters (73.5 per cent) backing strike action in a ballot.

Union bosses have demanded talks with the Scottish Government “as a matter of urgency” as they announced strike action which will hit airports across the highlands and islands in the run-up to Christmas.

As the strike dates were announced, Shauna Wright, an industrial officer with Unite, challenged the Scottish Government to find the cash to fund an improved pay offer.

She 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.”

Inglis Lyon, Hial 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.

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“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.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We absolutely respect the democratic right of union members to take industrial action – though it is disappointing that passengers face the prospect of disruption ahead of the festive period.

“We encourage Hial and Unite to continue to engage in positive dialogue in order to resolve this dispute.”