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Transport / Industrial action suspended as air traffic controllers vote on revised pay offer

The Sumburgh Airport air traffic control tower. Photo: HIAL

AIR TRAFFIC controllers at Highlands and Islands Airport Limited (HIAL) have now suspended all industrial action while being balloted on whether or not to accept a revised pay offer.

Last week a strike planned for today (12 June) at airports in the region, including Sumburgh, was called off after the revised pay offer was received from HIAL.

The move, however, came too late for Loganair which had already cancelled all of its flights for today and had re-scheduled affected passengers on extra flights on either side of the strike date.

However, Sumburgh airport is open today and both Loganair and Eastern Airways are operating chartered flights. The Loganair mail plane als operated as normal.

Air traffic controllers’ union Prospect said it would now ballot its members with no recommendation whether to accept the offer.

The ballot opens today and closes on 28 June. If the pay offer is rejected then action short of a strike will resume on 29 June, Prospect said.

The union’s negotiating officer David Avery said: “The offer we have received from HIAL is sufficiently different to the original offer that we want to give members the chance to properly consider it and vote on whether to accept it.

“Prospect is not making a recommendation on whether to accept or reject the offer and so as to remain neutral we will not be making any further statement at this time.”

HIAL’s managing director Inglis Lyon said:  “Following a productive meeting with Prospect, we have received confirmation that all industrial action, including the work to rule, will be suspended from today, Wednesday 12 June, pending the outcome of the ballot on our revised offer.”

Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie said he fully supported the union’s actions and wondered whether the Scottish Government who own HIAL were fully appreciating the significance of the region’s air service.

“I’m not sure that ministers in Edinburgh fully appreciate the significance of these connections, if they did maybe they’d have taken action to resolve this dispute already,” he said.

“Air traffic controllers ensure that my constituents in remote and island communities can make lifeline connections and I’m grateful for the important job they do.

“I have been fully supportive of Prospect and its members throughout the process, and hope that the situation is resolved satisfactorily soon.”

Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston added: “It is unfortunate that this industrial action has had such an impact on local communities in the Northern Isles. We rely on our air links, and in turn we need them to be reliable.

“I am pleased that HIAL and the union have been able to get around the table and bring forward this revised offer. I sincerely hope that a deal can be agreed and that the air traffic control service will return to normal as soon as possible.”

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