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18 July 07
Highland Airports To Be Hit By Strike Action On Monday 30th July 2007
Talks today to avert industrial action by members of Unite at Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd have failed after the trades union rejected the companyís offer to go to conciliation and mediation with ACAS. Offers by the companyís senior management to address staff at all HIALís airports on the issue of pay and to work with the union on achieving greater flexibility in pay deals for future years were also rejected.

Unite members will now stage 24 hours of industrial action on Monday 30 July and every subsequent Monday until resolution. This action will cause major disruption to air services in the region on 30 July which will effect circa 4,000 passengers.

HIAL employs 320 members of staff across its 10 airports and head office at: Barra; Benbecula,; Campbeltown; Inverness; Islay; Kirkwall; Stornoway; Sumburgh; Tiree and Wick.

Unite represents 131 staff of fire fighter and leading fire fighter grades in the companyís airport fire service and vehicle engineers. Of the 131 ballots issued by the union, 70 votes were returned in favour of industrial action and 17 against with 44 ballots not returned. The union therefore advised HIAL that  24-hour industrial action will be taken on Monday 30 July and every following Monday until resolution.

As a company wholly owned by the Scottish Executive, HIAL was subject to the UK Governmentís cap on public sector wages. The maximum offer permitted for its 2006/07 pay award was 2% and was arrived at following assessment against a range of criteria including previous pay awards, inflation, terms and conditions and current salary levels. HIAL employees represented by the Prospect and PCS trades unions have accepted the 2% award for the year running 1 October 2006 to 30 September 2007.

Inglis Lyon, managing director of HIAL said: ďWe have made every effort to work with the union to avert industrial action but without success. We now face the prospect of Unite members effectively closing down the regionís air network on 30 July which will inconvenience thousands of passengers and cause significant economic loss to the region as a whole in the middle of the peak tourist season.Ē

The gross average salaries for HIALís airport fire service in 2006/07 were: £24,796 to £31,566 for fire fighters and £29,385 to £39,035 for leading fire fighters. These compare to an average gross annual salary in Scotland for 2006 of £22,603.

HIAL provides a final salary pension scheme for its employees with the company contributing 22% of salary to the scheme annually while employees contribute 6% or 7% of salary, depending upon when they joined the scheme.

The companyís terms and conditions include 27.5 days holiday per annum plus eight public holidays which rises to 32.5 days plus eight public holidays after 10 years of service. HIALís employment policies all exceed the statutory minimum requirements. For example, the company pays full pay for the first six months of sick leave.

Staff turnover at HIAL is low and was 7.6% in 2006/07.

The following table shows HIAL pay awards since 1 October 2002 benchmarked against both RPI and CPI inflation. 

HIAL Pay Year

1 Oct Ė 30 Sep

HIAL Pay Award



























The following table shows average gross annual earnings for HIAL staff represented by Unite by airport location for the year ending 31 March 2007 benchmarked against average gross annual earnings in local authority areas in 2006.

HIAL Average Annual Salaries 2006/07 


Fire Fighter

Leading Fire Fighter


Average by Council Area 2006





(Eilean Siar)





(Eilean Siar)





(Argyll & Bute)










(Argyll & Bute)










(Eilean Siar)










(Argyll & Bute)






Highlands and Islands Airports Limited operates 10 airports in the North and West of Scotland. The airports range from the principal hubs at Inverness, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Sumburgh to those at Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Islay, Tiree and Wick.

HIAL was formed as a private limited company in 1986 as a subsidiary of the UK Civil Aviation Authority. Its ownership transferred to the Secretary of State for Scotland, now the Scottish Ministers, on 1 April 1995. The company is wholly owned by the Scottish Ministers and receives subsidies from the Scottish Executive in accordance with Section 34 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982.

The company is responsible for providing airport infrastructure, facilitating lifeline air links, developing air traffic in the region and supporting economic development and social inclusion in Scotlandís most remote communities.

In the year ending 31 March 2007 HIALís 10 airports handled a record 1,232,000 passengers and more than 101,000 aircraft movements. Passenger numbers ranged from 7,500 at Tiree to 700,000 at Inverness.

For further information see the www.hial.co.uk website.