Airport security staff back strike

Airport security staff are to strike at Sumburgh Airport, following a strong vote in favour of a walkout.

Union Prospect said 87 per cent of workers voted in favour of a strike on an 85 per cent turnout.

Staff at AMSL, which forms part of the Scottish government-owned Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) will hold a 48-hour strike at all HIAL airports from midday on 7th April.

The ballot was being held after workers agreed to take a stand against what they see as unfair pay and conditions, they are arguing for a pay increase of 30 per cent.

“The ballot result announced this afternoon shows a clear determination to secure fairness for AMSL workers,” declared Prospect national secretary Alan Denney.

“The company and Scottish government should be in no doubt that members have had enough.”

Prospect said in the six years since HIAL brought security in house, management had failed to agree equal pay, holidays, and sick pay for AMSL’s airport security workers.

Mr Denney added: “Our dispute is with HIAL and Scottish ministers, not passengers, so our representatives decided to avoid travel disruption over the Easter weekend.

“Therefore the strike will start at midday on Tuesday 7 April after the Easter rush has passed. This will be followed by a work to contract, including an overtime ban and a ban on rest day working.”

The union said it would be writing to the company giving the required seven days’ notice of action.

Prospect said it stands ready to meet HIAL to negotiate a settlement.

But it said an offer to meet this afternoon in anticipation of the result was rejected.

The union represents more than 120 of AMSL’s 160 workers covering eleven Scottish airports including Dundee, Inverness, Stornoway and Sumburgh.

In a statement issued this afternoon, HIAL said it has refused to accept union claims for a near 30 per cent increase in pay for AMSL staff and branded the pay increase “unreasonable”.

HIAL said it had worked constructively to address the union’s concerns and was “willing to engage with Prospect”.

The company said security staff were transferred from a third party conractor to AMSL in 2009.

Since then AMSL staff had enjoyed a 30 per cent increase in basic pay over five years. Workers also for the first time had access to a generous pension scheme.

Prospect was pushing for measures amounting to almost a 30 per cent pay increase for some of its members, said HIAL.

“This comprises a basic pay rise, equilisation with HIAL’s terms and conditions, and parity with Sumburgh employees.

“The latter demand is particularly unreasonable given that wages at Sumburgh are traditionally higher than on the mainland because of the higher cost of living, low unemployment rates and a buoyant oil based economy which has traditionally attracted higher wages”.

HIAL said Prospect had refused to enter into negotiations or consider a more reasonable pay claim.

But it said it “remained open to further dialogue”.

“Even at this late stage, we hope that industrial action can be averted. However, passengers can be assured that we will work hard to keep any disruption to a minimum and ensure that a near normal service can be provided.

“Given the unrealistic nature of the claim, at almost 30%, Prospect have been asked to modify their claim and highlight which elements they would be prepared to negotiate on, but have thus far refused. HIAL, on the other hand, remains open to further negotiation.”


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