Prospect members are in dispute over a pay offer from Airport Management Services Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Highlands and Islands Airports, that is outstanding from July 2010.
All 160 security staff have been offered a miserly 1% increase to their current rates of as little as £6.85 an hour. They are also denied sick or shift payments, overtime rates of pay, weekend premia or membership of a pension scheme - benefits that their work colleagues at aiports all receive.
Alan Denney, Prospect National Officer, said the ballot would be completed by late June with a view to launching the action in the week beginning 4 July. HIA airports at Inverness, Dundee, Stornoway and several islands would be affected. The Barclays Scottish Open will be held from 7-10 July at a new venue adjacent to Inverness Airport.
Denney said: “Security staff recognise that their industry is not well paid but they are tired of being singled out for inferior treatment by their employer. Security staff have to work alongside other HIA staff who as a matter of course enjoy a decent wage, all the benefits of a pension scheme and sick and shift pay.
“It is incredible that the Scottish government supports a living wage of £7.15 an hour but is content to allow many of its own staff to work for less without the basic working rights that are standard for any worker in the private or public sectors.”
Feelings at Inverness are running high since news broke that HIA was planning to import volunteers from other airports in Scotland to break any strike at Inverness. The company, which is wholly owned by the Scottish Government, has offered strike-breakers a special £150 payment for working away from home and time and a half for shift work.
Denney said: “It is a scandal that a Government company would stoop to the level of recruiting strike-breakers from other airports. But to pay them more than it pays its own staff is to add insult to injury. We call on the First Minister to step in and put an end to this shameful behaviour.”
He added: “Obviously we regret any inconvenience to visitors to the Scottish Open but after waiting almost 12 months for their 2010 increase, security staff can wait no longer.”