Air traffic controllers and Hial resolve pay dispute

The air traffic controllers dispute over pay and conditions has been resolved, with workers from Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (Hial) accepting a revised pay offer from the company.

Members of the Prospect trade union voted to accept a pay deal by a large margin, which ends the long-running dispute.

The pay deal for 2018 to 2021 was negotiated late last year.

The union had rejected previous pay offers, with strike action at Sumburgh and other Hial airports in summer causing disruption.

David Avery, Prospect negotiations officer, said: “We are pleased that our members have accepted this new deal and that this long-running dispute can now be brought to an end.

“Air traffic controllers provide a vital service for the Highlands and Islands and deserve to have their work and skills properly compensated and we are pleased that this deal represents real progress.

“The deal has required compromise on both sides and I would like to thank Scottish Ministers for giving Hial the authority to reach a deal, and we look forward to working constructively with Hial in the future.”

Inglis Lyon, Hial’s managing director, said: “I’m pleased to advise that the ATC pay dispute has now been resolved. Prospect has confirmed today (Friday 3rd January) that, following a ballot of their membership, there was an overwhelming acceptance of our revised pay offer.

“Acceptance of this offer sees air traffic controllers receiving the 2019/20 pay increase already awarded to other Hial staff, along with a commitment to a similar award in 2020/21, assuming that Scottish Government’s pay policy remains broadly the same.  In addition, they will receive a retention payment for a three-year period.

“This now draws the ATC industrial action to a close and we look forward to working with our air traffic control staff as we strive to maintain and develop sustainable airport services for the future.”

Politicians welcomed the resolution of the dispute, including Scottish Greens transport spokesman John Finnie, who said: “Hial’s air traffic controllers play a vital role, allowing lifeline flights to service remote, rural and island communities throughout the Highlands and Islands. My constituents will be relieved, as I am, that this long running dispute has finally been resolved.

“The unique role performed by these skilled workers hasn’t always been appreciated by Ministers in Edinburgh or officials in Inverness. I hope that will now change.

“Prospect deserves enormous credit for holding out for a fair deal for its members.”

Scottish Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston called news of the resolution “very welcome”.

“Our air links are vital lifeline connections, particularly for those of us living in the islands. However, this dispute created real uncertainty for passengers across the Highlands and Islands, impacting on personal, business and medical travel,” he said.

“I am still concerned that, despite the impact of this disruption, and with Hial wholly owned by the Scottish Government, ministers chose to sit on their hands throughout this dispute and failed to make serious efforts to get it resolved earlier”.


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