Unite members across eleven airports back action in pay dispute

Members of Unite have voted by 73.5 per cent in favour of taking strike action and by 92.8 per cent in favour of taking action short of strike in a battle to improve pay for rural communities amid a cost of living crisis. 

Unite, which represents members across eleven airports in the HIAL group, including those working in Fire and Rescue, Security and administration, will confirm industrial action dates next week. 

The union is warning that any strike action will cause huge disruption over the winter break and festive period. The workforce has rejected an unacceptable 5 per cent offer with inflation soaring to hit a 40-year high of 14.2 per cent (RPI).

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 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.”

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

HIAL, a private limited company wholly-owned by the Scottish Government, claims it is bound by funding obligations set by the Scottish Government. Unite is calling on the Scottish Government to meet with the trade union, the workers and HIAL to improve pay, terms and conditions in the Highlands and Islands.

Shauna Wright, Unite industrial officer added: “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.”


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Unite Scotland is the country’s biggest and most diverse trade union with around 150,000 members. The union is led in Scotland by Pat Rafferty.