By Humphrey Carter

THOUSANDS of Scottish families were fearing the worst yesterday because industrial action by Balearic airport ground staff today coincides with the first weekend of their school holidays.

Last night, however, the unions were split over backing this afternoon's two-hour airport protest as a new threat of industrial action in the tourist industry emerged.

The hostelry sector is now threatening to go on strike if a deal over improved working conditions and pay can not be reached with management by July 13.

According to the unions, the hostelry sector failed to comply with its deadline and handed over its proposed new contract details too late, giving the unions little time to study the contents.

As a result, a meeting has been called for July 4 and then a series of daily meetings between July 9 and 13 during which time the unions hope to be able to thrash out an acceptable deal.

But, if the talks fail then a month of industrial action involving 120'000 employees in the service sector, will be launched at the end of July and continue until the end of August.

If protest action does go ahead, it will disrupt the busiest month of the Balearics's tourist season and cause widespread disruption. “We want a solution not confrontation,” union representative Gines Diaz said yesterday. “But, the hostelry sector can not be allowed to toy with us and a strike in the service sector could have serious repercussions,” he added. “We're also suffering the consequences of the economic crisis and cutbacks companies are making to reduce operating costs.” Today's two-hour protest by Acciona Airports Services ground staff at Balearic airports will go ahead but what was not clear last night was how many employees will back industrial action.

Three of the four unions representing Acciona staff have accepted the company's new terms but the CGT union has refused to accept the new deal and intends to go ahead with the protests today, tomorrow and next Saturday.

The industrial action will not only affect baggage handling services but aircraft refueling, catering and the transportation of passengers between their planes and the terminals and thousands of Scots holiday makers heading our way at the start of the school holidays face possible airport chaos.

The first Saturday after the start of the school summer holidays is traditionally one of the busiest of the year at Glasgow Airport, as families head off on charter flights to resorts in southern Europe.

More than 3000 holiday makers are booked on flights from Glasgow Airport to Majorca, Minorca and Ibiza.
A spokeswoman for Glasgow Airport said yesterday that people coming to the Balearics were being urged to check with their airline before heading to the airport.