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Airports Set to Close Across The Highlands and Islands

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Strike action set to begin at Dundee Airport

Dundee Airport will be closed tomorrow (17 February) due to strike action as part of a pay dispute involving over 120 Unite members across the Highlands and Islands Airport Limited (HIAL) Group.

Strike action will begin tomorrow at Dundee Airport, and then resumes on Monday (20 February).

There will be a strike demonstration starting from 11 a.m. at Dundee Airport on both days of action in close proximity to the airport entrance.

Several days of 24-hour strike action is scheduled across all HIAL’s 11 airports following the action in Dundee.

Strike action will take place on 21, 22, and 23 February at the HIAL Group’s other airports: Barra Airport, Benbecula Airport, Campbeltown Airport, Inverness Airport, Islay Airport, Kirkwall Airport, Stornoway Airport, Sumburgh Airport, Tiree Airport, Wick Airport.

Due to the scale of Unite’s industrial action the HIAL Group has now informed the public that a number of airports will be fully closed including Barra, Benbecula, Dundee, Stornoway, Sumburgh and Tiree.

Kirkwall Airport will operate on a limited basis.

The trade union predicts its industrial action will impact the remaining airports differently from mail not getting through to offshore workers not being able to mobilise to installations, and to return home.

Unite has further confirmed that its members will take part in a discontinuous overtime ban across all 11 airports starting on 24 February and continuing each day up to and inclusive of 2 March.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said:

“Unite’s industrial action is set to fully close a number of airports starting with Dundee. Other airports will either operate on a limited basis or be significantly disrupted.

“Let’s be clear that the source of this dispute is due to the inflexibility shown by airport management and the Scottish Government to pay these workers what they deserve.

“Unite will fully support our members in the fight for better jobs, pay and conditions across the Highlands and Islands.”

The workforce has previously rejected a five per cent offer which they deemed unacceptable.

Unite represents security staff, baggage handlers, ground crew along with those working in fire and rescue, security and administration.

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

Unite has previously called 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.

The Scottish Government to date has not directly met with Unite to discuss pay, recruitment and retention of workers across the HIAL group.

Shauna Wright, Unite industrial officer said:

“Unite has no choice but to escalate our industrial action across the HIAL Group.

“Our members keep the airports operating in isolated and rural communities.

“They help to ensure that businesses can trade, workers can travel and visitors can come to the islands.

“The way they have been treated by the Scottish Government and HIAL management is deeply disappointing.

“Unite’s industrial action will now cause widespread disruption.

“Local communities, workers and businesses should turn their fire on the Scottish Government for ignoring these vital workers and allowing this dispute to escalate to a point where airports will now be fully closed.”

Members of Unite voted in December 2022 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 bid to improve pay for rural communities amid a cost of living crisis.

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