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Strikes set to hit Inverness Airport over festive period

By Gavin Musgrove

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Inverness is among 11 Highlands and Islands airports set to be hit by strike action over the festive period.

Inverness Airport. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Inverness Airport. Picture: James Mackenzie.

Members of Unite voted by 73.5 per cent in favour of strike action and by 92.8 per cent in favour of action short of strike in a battle to improve pay.

Unite represents members across 11 airports in the HIAL (Highlands and Islands Airports Limited) whose roles include fire and rescue, security and administration.

The dates for industrial action are expected to be announced next week after the workforce rejected a 5% offer.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: "Airport workers across Highland and Island communities simply can’t afford to live on their current wages.

"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 of action 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 11 airports have emphatically backed industrial action and they will have their union’s full support in their fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

The airports across the HIAL Group are Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Dundee, Inverness, Islay, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumburgh, Tiree and Wick.

Shauna Wright, Unite industrial officer, said: "We urgently need HIAL and the Scottish Government to get round the table.

"It’s an imperative that the relevant parties work together to save rural communities and retain jobs in the Highlands and Islands.

"With the necessary political will, we believe that our members’ pay, terms, and conditions across HIAL airports can be improved."

HIAL, a private limited company wholly-owned by the Scottish Government, claims it is bound by funding obligations set by the government.

A HIAL spokesperson said: "Unite’s media statement is unhelpful as it does not explain what industrial action will take place, or the dates it will commence.

"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.

"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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