Air travel in Shetland is expected to be disrupted throughout spring and summer after air traffic controllers voted overwhelmingly to strike.
Eighty-eight per cent of controllers who were Prospect members voted to take strike action, rejecting the Highlands and Islands Airport Limited (Hial) proposal of a two per cent pay increase made last year.
Unless Prospect and Hial can come to an agreement over pay demands, the strike would affect airports in Benbecula, Dundee, Inverness, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumburgh and Wick.
Prospect has said that the action is likely to start in April and continue through the summer.
Prospect negotiations officer David Avery said after the vote that, “Our members at Hial undertake highly skilled roles, much in demand across the UK and Europe, but due to public sector pay restraint their pay has fallen significantly behind the rest of the industry.
“Air Traffic Controllers do not want to have to take this action but ministers’ refusal to engage with the issue of pay has left them with no choice.”
Hial managing director Inglis Lyon wrote in an email seen by The Shetland Times said Hial had offered to “engage” with Prospect to find a solution.
“In the event that strike action cannot be avoided,” he wrote, “the airports mentioned above will close for the period of the strike and we will work closely with our airline customers to minimise the impact before and after any action.”
Highlands and Islands list MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston said there was potential for “major disruption”.
“It is vital that this dispute is resolved before these airports are left with no alternative but to shut down, with passengers across the Highlands and Islands suffering.”
- See next Friday’s paper for more.