Shetland MSP Tavish Scott has today appealed to Unite’s Scottish Secretary, Pat Rafferty, to allow lifeline medical flights from the islands to continue throughout their newly announced strike periods.
Workers at Aberdeen Airport have announced their intention to strike at points throughout late July and August. This would deny NHS patients living in Orkney and Shetland the opportunity to attend scheduled medical appointments in Aberdeen through no fault of their own.
I write regarding the deeply concerning news of potential strike action at Aberdeen Airport by Unite members.
I understand that workers at Aberdeen Airport voted for strike action on Friday 20th July, Thursday 2nd August and Thursday 16th August, in a dispute over pay.
The strike action would affect not only leisure and business travellers, but also NHS patients travelling from Orkney and Shetland for treatment on the mainland. Any avoidable delay in receiving essential treatment is unacceptable. Many of these passengers have been waiting for their appointments for months if not years, and have no way to access the treatment and specialists they need at home. Travelling out with the isles for medical treatment is already stressful for vulnerable isles residents without the added anxiety caused by cancellations. Rescheduling appointments is not easy for those living in remote communities and patients may have a lengthy wait for another opportunity to travel.
The right to strike is an important one and I understand that strikes have to cause disruption in order to be effective. But, I urge your members to carefully consider this compromise: Loganair flights from the North Isles use smaller aircraft which require a lower level of fire service cover. Therefore, Unite members could guarantee a minimum level of fire and security coverage on the proposed strike dates, allowing life-line Orkney and Shetland flights to continue for essential medical travel.
I hope further discussions will resolve the dispute before any strike action goes ahead and that the needs of North Isles passengers are at the forefront of your decision making.