The Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) today called on representatives from the Prospect union to return to the negotiating table in a new bid to end the airport security dispute.
The second of two days of strike action at Sumburgh Airport was taking place today.
But Prospect’s national secretary Alan Denney has criticised HIAL for releasing details of the offer to the press before it was sent to the union.
He said: “As I understand from a copy of the press release that STV forwarded to me – but I haven’t had a message yet from the company to that effect.
“I would have thought that before putting a press release out saying that we had been inviting me to the negotiating table, the managing director would have emailed me or phoned me.”
Mr Denney, who lives in Clackmanan, insisted he would not be returning to HIAL’s head office in Inverness until a concrete offer is available.
“Since the strike is so ineffectual, according to the company’s press release, I’m struggling to see what the urgency is now – since clearly, in their view, our strike’s had no effect,” he said.
“As soon as there is an offer on the table to discuss, we will be there. But I’ve been at too many meetings where you turn up, you have a nice little chat, and you leave, and the issue is not any further forward.
“Once there is a substantive offer on the table, we’ll be there for discussions, but I’m not wasting Prospect’s time or money in having discussions about discussions – this is five months since the claim went in, and once there is an offer on the table we’ll be there to discuss it.”
The dispute involves staff employed by HIAL’s security company, Airport Management Services Ltd (AMSL). Prospect insist management has failed to agree equal pay, holidays and sick pay for AMSL’s airport security workers. Staff are also due to begin a work to rule once the strike has concluded.
Passengers are being urged to turn up early for their flights. But HIAL insisted things are “business as usual” at 10 of its 11 airports, including Sumburgh.
HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon said talks should begin again.
“Midway through this unnecessary strike, I would urge the union to return to the negotiating table. Prolonged industrial action is not in anyone’s interests, least of all our passengers, the many businesses and jobs that rely on our airports and the airport workers affected by the industrial action.
“At this midway point I would encourage Prospect representatives to suspend the strike and meet with me in an attempt to find a solution. Both sides showed a willingness last week to enter into discussions and I believe that Prospect would better serve the interests of its members by suspending the strike action and resuming a constructive dialogue.
“Neither side favours a protracted dispute. With that in mind, I would urge Prospect to take stock, suspend the strike and allow discussions to restart. I believe we can make progress.”