Planned strikes at Aberdeen’s airport could cripple services during its busiest season, a union boss warned today.
More than half the 252-strong workforce at Aberdeen International Airport are expected to strike after 88% of workers rejected the latest pay offer.
The move could see around 170 workers taking part in industrial action, including security and airfield operations, airside services, firefighters and passenger service agents.
A series of 24-hour stoppages are planned to take place on July 20, August 2 and August 16 but a spokeswoman for the airport maintained they would be ready to deal with any planned strikes.
Mediator Acas has been contacted to lead discussions between the two parties, with the airport seeking a suitable date for these to continue.
Unite regional officer Wullie Wallace said the strikes would affect the running of the airport at the height of the summer holiday season.
He said: “It would have a big effect because the people taking the action are key to the running of the airport.
“I could see the airport not being able to run on those days because a lot of key people would be striking.
“It could be a busy time for the airport as it’s July and August it’s pencilled in for, so unfortunately it would have an impact on the public.”
The airport employs its own firefighters but it is understood replacements could be drafted in from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to plug the gap.
However, the airport could not confirm how many firefighters it employs or what contingency arrangements would be in place.
Unite said operations at the heliport would not be affected under any industrial action.
Mr Wallace added that the latest pay offer has been “emphatically rejected” by Unite members.
He said: “The workforce for several years now has received below inflation increases and the company’s idea of rewarding their hard-working employees is by offering more real-term pay cuts.
“Aberdeen Airport has been investing heavily into improving the airport facilities and amenities.
“It’s high time for the company to invest in their employees.
“Unite remain open to further discussions with a view to resolving the dispute.”
An Aberdeen Airport spokesman said: “We have been informed by Unite of their intention to take industrial action on Friday July 20.
“This follows the rejection of our proposed pay offer.
“We believe we have made an offer that is entirely fair and reasonable and we are committed to continuing discussions to reach a resolution acceptable to all parties.
“We have made contact with Acas, which has agreed to mediate between both parties.
“We are seeking a suitable date to continue our discussions in an attempt to reach a mutually agreeable position.
“We will, as a matter of course, ensure contingency plans are in place in the event of any planned industrial action.”
A TUI spokesman, which operates flights to and from the airport, said staff are “working closely” with the airport to “understand the situation”.
He added: “We would like to reassure customers that we will do everything possible to minimise disruption should the industrial action take place.”
In 2016, a potential strike by Aberdeen Airport workers over pensions was averted after talks between union bosses and airport chiefs resulted in an “agreement in principle”.
There were fears industrial action could lead to major disruption at the north-east gateway at the height of the summer season.
The airport recently unveiled a much bigger and improved security hall, as well as new shops and a larger duty free section as part of a £20 million investment at the terminal.
Work on a third phase is already under way and will deliver new and bigger catering facilities, with bosses hoping it will be finished in time for Offshore Europe 2019.
The Duchess of Rothesay officially opened phase one last October, which saw the creation of a new international arrivals hall and baggage reclaim area.
Airport bosses spent nearly four years designing the development to minimise the impact the work on the terminal’s transformation would have on passengers.
Easyjet said it could not comment until it received notice of strike action.
Flybe, British Airways and Thomas Cook could not be reached for comment.