Talks aimed at resolving an ongoing industrial dispute over air traffic controllers’ pay at airports including Sumburgh have broken down.
The Prospect union, which represents the controllers, and Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (Hial) held talks with the conciliation service Acas in Dundee on Friday.
Prospect is demanding that the Hial network increases pay to bring it into line with other airports. The union says Hial, the Scottish government-owned airport operator, had made no improved offer and therefore the talks collapsed.
Air traffic controllers have rejected a two per cent pay increase offered by Hial, demanding a 10 per cent rise.
Plans are now being drawn up to meet with controllers’ representatives next week to plan further industrial action – potentially affecting Sumburgh Airport.
Prospect negotiations officer David Avery said: “Our members agreed to cancel strike action earlier in the year to allow the company to develop new proposals. It is disappointing that after three meetings no new proposals have been tabled and no new money has been made available.
“Prospect members have been extremely patient with Hial. That patience is now exhausted. We will now move to further industrial action including strike. We urge Scottish ministers to intervene and come forward with additional funding to resolve this dispute.”
Hial insists its hands are tied because of government rules and urged Propsect to come back to the negotiating table.
Hial managing director Inglis Lyon said: “We met with Prospect and Acas today (3rd May) for the third time in an effort to find a mutually acceptable solution to the pay dispute with air traffic controllers. Hial is bound by the existing government pay policy and simply cannot implement a pay award that greatly exceeds it.
“We are disappointed that proposals put forward by HIAL were not accepted by Prospect, and that talks today failed to deliver a resolution.
“Hial is committed to resolving this dispute and we would urge the union to work with us to deliver a reasonable and appropriate remuneration package.”
The Prospect union voted overwhelmingly to take industrial action on 1st March, with 88 per cent of air traffic controllers polled voting to strike. That was called off to allow talks to continue.
Any industrial action would be likely to affect the Hial airports in Benbecula, Dundee, Inverness, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumburgh and Wick.