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Air traffic control pay dispute ends

By David G Scott

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THE long-running dispute over air traffic controllers' pay at Wick John O'Groats Airport and other airports throughout the Highlands has finally been resolved.

It was announced today (Friday) that members of the Prospect union working in air traffic control for Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (Hial) had voted to accept a pay deal for 2018-21 which will end the dispute.

The staff accepted the proposed deal, which had been negotiated late last year, by a large margin in a ballot.

Air traffic control at Wick airport.Picture: DGS
Air traffic control at Wick airport.Picture: DGS

Prospect negotiations officer David Avery 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. We look forward to working constructively with Hial in the future.”

Six airports operated by Hial – Inverness, Kirkwall, Sumburgh, Benbecula, Dundee and Stornoway – had closures as a result of the strike but Wick was not affected.

Hial said that a "local arrangement" had been in place for Wick John O’Groats Airport and it remained open to air traffic throughout the strike. The airports at Barra, Campbeltown, Islay and Tiree also stayed open.

Managing director Inglis Lyon said he is pleased the pay dispute has finally been resolved.
Managing director Inglis Lyon said he is pleased the pay dispute has finally been resolved.

Inglis Lyon, Hial’s managing director, said: “I’m pleased to advise that the ATC pay dispute has now been resolved.

"Prospect has confirmed that, following a ballot of its 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 the 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.”

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant, who had been campaigning on behalf of the air traffic controllers, said: “I am glad the dispute has been resolved. This will come as welcome news to both the air traffic controllers and the communities they serve.

“I also welcome the promise from Inglis Lyon that he will now work with air traffic controllers regarding a sustainable solution for the future of the service.”

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