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Transport / HIAL pay dispute ends after union members accept revised offer

Loganair says it will reintroduce suspended flights

Sumburgh Airport in December. Photo: Ronnie Robertson

A DISPUTE between trade unions and Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) is set to end after members voted to accept a revised pay offer.

Loganair said it will reintroduce flights it suspended due to industrial action a week earlier than anticipated.

The Prospect union said its members working in fire and security accepted the revised deal for 2022/23, which was negotiated following industrial action at airports across the HIAL group, by almost 75 per cent in a ballot.

The revised offer provides a seven per cent uplift for those earning up to £44,000, a five per cent increase for those earning up to £80,000 and four per cent for those above £80,000.

Industrial action by Prospect members had prompted Loganair to temporarily suspend flights between HIAL airports, including on the Sumburgh/Kirkwall/Inverness routes.

However, Loganair said it will reintroduce the flights on 24 April – one week earlier than anticipated.

HIAL – which is owned by the Scottish Government – said the Unite union, which held strikes in December and February, also accepted the pay offer. More than 90 per cent of its 120 members working with HIAL voted to accept the offer.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite’s members across the Highlands and Islands airports stood firm and fought to achieve a positive result. Unite’s members are to be congratulated for leading the fight to secure better jobs, pay and conditions across the Highlands and Islands.”

Industrial action causes Loganair to temporarily suspend Sumburgh/Kirkwall/Inverness service

HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon said: “We are pleased that the enhanced offer has been accepted by colleagues.

“We are sorry that the industrial action and route suspensions have caused considerable disruption for passengers and our customers, particularly for those on our island communities who rely on our airports to support essential and lifeline services.

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“We also apologise for the significant impact the action has had on our airline partners. This positive result will provide our partner airlines with the certainty they require to plan air connectivity for their passengers.”

Jane Rose, Prospect negotiations officer, said: “We are pleased that Prospect members have accepted this new deal and the dispute can now be brought to an end.

“Our members at HIAL provide a vital service for the Highlands and Islands and deserve to have their work and skills properly compensated. This deal has required compromise from all involved and I thank Scottish Ministers for giving HIAL the authority to reach a deal.

“It is clear there are wider pay structure issues which remain to be addressed and we look forward to working constructively with HIAL to tackle these as we move, almost immediately, into 2023-24 discussions.”

Commenting on the resolution of the dispute, minister for transport Jenny Gilruth said: “I’m very pleased that a resolution has been reached and that vital connectivity for our remote communities will be restored as soon as possible.

“Whilst the impact on services has been disruptive for affected communities, I’d like to thank HIAL and both unions for continuing to engage constructively throughout this process and ultimately coming to an agreement that will be welcomed by staff and passengers.

“We will continue to work with HIAL to grow passenger numbers through their airports with the aim of maintaining the commercial viability of services on which our remote communities depend.”

A spokesperson for Loganair said: “We are heartened and relieved to learn of the settlement of the pay dispute between Highlands and Islands Airports and unions representing many of its employees.

“With this news we can all now focus on delivering a busy summer season ahead – the first full year of open international travel since the pandemic – without fear of rolling disruption to island flights from strikes and work-to-rule actions.

“We have reviewed all possibilities to restore suspended services between HIAL airports earlier than initially anticipated and we are happy to confirm that flights from Inverness will resume on Monday 24 April, one week earlier than previously planned.

“These will go on sale from Thursday 23 March via Loganair’s website and major booking systems. In the meantime, Loganair continues to offer services on all other routes to Benbecula, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Sumburgh, including the inter-isles air service between Benbecula and Stornoway.”

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