Fire and Security workers at HIAL Airports take industrial action

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Arrivals and departures from all 11 Highlands and Islands Airports (HIAL) will be thrown into a state of chaos over the next three days (21-23 February) as Unite union members go on strike.

Check-in staff, baggage handlers, ground crew, security workers and fire crews will down tools for 72 hours, starting today, as they demand improvements from HIAL on the 5% pay offer.

Speaking on the latest episode of Good Morning Scotland (GMS), Shauna Wright, industrial officer with Unite Union, said: “We’re dealing with the complexities of this organisation and in itself, it brings its own difficulties but I do have to stress our members are being double hit by this because this started over 10 months ago. This is an ongoing dispute since April last year.

“It is a disgrace that the Scottish Government and HIAL haven’t brought this dispute to an end. It is within their gift to give and I would urge every member of the public affected by this to remember that our members are affected by this.

“It’s their families and it’s their friends that don’t get to hospital appointments, that don’t get the mail.”


Last week, Prospect members working in Fire and Security at Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd voted to take industrial action over pay after rejecting a 5% pay offer in October 2022, The Orkney News has reported.

In a statutory ballot that closed last week (14 February) 71% voted for strike action with 84% voting for action short of a strike on a turnout of over 80%, well above the regulatory threshold of 50%.

Prospect, which represents members across all 11 HIAL airports, is currently consulting with members on the exact form and dates for industrial action.

The union warned that strike action and action short of a strike is likely to cause significant disruption across the remote and rural communities served by the airports.

Unite the union has already announced a series of strike dates in February across the Highland and Islands airports and Prospect said it fully supports Unite members in their campaign.

Fire and Security members enable the safe operation of HIAL airports, supporting vital travel links between some of the most remote communities in Scotland.

Jane Rose, Prospect Negotiations Officer said last week: “Our members in Fire and Security are increasingly frustrated at the lack of meaningful progress to resolve this dispute. They overwhelmingly rejected an unacceptable 5% offer in October but since then neither HIAL nor Scottish Government have come back to the table with any serious effort to deliver a pay increase that properly addresses the worst cost-of-living crisis in 40 years.

“Our members don’t want to go on strike, they live in these communities, and they understand the impact action will have on families, friends, local business, and tourism. But after months of delay with no progress, they have been left with no option but to take a stand. 

“Prospect will be meeting again with HIAL in the coming days but unless they move quickly to deliver a meaningful and fair offer on pay and terms and conditions they will create a spring of continual disruption for customers and visitors.”

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