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Transport / Second strike on the cards at Sumburgh

The Sumburgh Airport air traffic control tower. Photo: HIAL

THE BOSS of Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) has said he is “extremely disappointed” air traffic controllers are set for a further strike on 12 June.

HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon also called on the Prospect union to suspend action until it has considered proposals that are to be tabled by bosses next week.

His comments come after Prospect announced its second one-day strike as part of a pay dispute after no new proposal had come from the airport operator.

Lyon said: “Prospect were advised this morning that HIAL were preparing a further proposal which we hoped would resolve the current dispute, and would be presented to them early next week.

“Our proposal recognises the skills of our Air Traffic Control Officers and the importance of delivering air traffic management services for the future. The proposal is within the flexibility granted by the Scottish Government to examine a retention allowance for ATCOs.

“We requested that Prospect suspend further dates for strike action to allow consultation on our offer to take place.  It is extremely disappointing that the union has chosen to ignore our request and announce a further day of strike action on 12 June.

“Our aim is to resolve this dispute as soon as possible and we will, of course, continue to engage with Prospect to consult on our proposal.”

Six airports in the Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) network were previously closed on 23 May due to strike action, including Sumburgh.

The row, which involves members of the Prospect union and government-owned HIAL, has not been resolved – meaning a second strike is on the cards.

Prospect negotiator David Avery said: “Since the initial strike action we have received no new offer from the employer, therefore our members have taken the decision to undertake a second day of strike action.

“The onus is now on HIAL and Scottish Government ministers to engage seriously with this dispute and come up with a proposal that will resolve this issue. We remain willing to negotiate in good faith and hope that an acceptable solution can be found.”

HIAL has said as a public organisation it is bound by the Scottish Government pay policy and “simply cannot implement pay awards that greatly exceed the policy”.

The company has uploaded to its website a list of the steps it has taken in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

The airports affected in the first strike were Sumburgh, Dundee, Inverness, Wick, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Benbecula.

General Election - 12 December 2019