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Business / Industrial disputes head towards different outcomes

Prospect members at Sumburgh Airport are working to rule.

AIR traffic controllers throughout the Highlands and Islands, including those at Sumburgh airport, are set to work to rule from Monday onwards as no resolution to a pay dispute is in sight.

The controllers, who are responsible for guiding the safe take off and landing of aircraft at airports, are to hold a one-day strike on 26 April that will paralyse flights within the region, with Sumburgh one of seven that will be closed to flights for 24 hours.

Before that, the controllers’ union Prospect is due to meet with Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) officials on 9 April to try and reach a settlement. Prospect is looking for a double-digit pay increase to bring the controllers’ wages closer inline than with those across the sector.

Loganair has warned passengers to expect disruption on the 26th and has taken tickets off sale for the day in the assumption that the strike will happen. Passengers are being offered an alternative flight seven days either side of the strike.

The work to rule – or withdrawal of goodwill – is expected to have a more limited effect on services from Monday onward and there will be a minor alteration of timetables to reflect this.

Shetland College lecturers during one of the previous strike days. Photo: Peter Johnson/Shetland News

Meanwhile college lecturers across Scotland voted overwhelmingly in favour of escalating their programme of industrial action which has seen four one-day strikes at Shetland College.

In Thursday’s ballot EIS-FELA members also backed other forms of industrial action – including a boycott of inputting assessment results into college management systems.

EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said the ballot result confirmed that college lecturers remained “fully committed” to the EIS-FELA campaign for a fair cost of living pay increase.

He added: “The turnout in this ballot is actually higher than the turnout in our previous ballot for strike action providing clear evidence that the mood amongst college lecturers is hardening.

“EIS-FELA have attempted to negotiate in good faith throughout this process, and continue to ask only for a fair pay settlement in line with public sector pay policy.”

Flanagan also questioned whether Colleges Scotland genuinely want to resolve the dispute and called for the Scottish Government to intervene in the dispute.

ButColleges Scotland Employers’ Association director John Gribben, branded the vote an “appalling ploy” that was supported by a “minority” of EIS-FELA members.

He said: “We are extremely disappointed that the EIS-FELA is committed to recklessly gambling with the futures of college students.  It is not the behaviour anyone would expect from a professional body.

“By withholding assessment results, the EIS-FELA will wreak havoc with students’ life opportunities, as without external verification by awarding bodies, they would be unable to achieve their qualifications, meaning they would be unable to move on to other courses at college or university, finalise their apprenticeships or move into jobs conditional on passing courses.  This is an unprecedented and disgraceful attack on students at a critical time for them and their futures.”

He said that Scottish lecturers were by far the best paid in the UK, with what was on the table amounting to more than 12 per cent –  “but the EIS-FELA has rejected this and refuses to make any concessions or compromises at all”.

He said the colleges’ offer  – costing over £10 million – was coming from cuts to college budgets.

“We will continue to meet with the EIS-FELA to resolve this dispute for the sake of the students, who stand to lose out the most by the EIS-FELA’s reckless behaviour.

“The number of lecturers out on strike has waned by over a fifth throughout this dispute and we urge the EIS-FELA to engage in a meaningful two-way process and compromise rather than continue to demand more pay without offering anything in return,” said Gribben.

Industrial action at Shetland Gas Plant has meanwhile fizzled out with union Unite saying that it had conceded to intense management pressure on the workforce including threats of termination and had therefore signed up to the new contract.

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