Local MSP Rhoda Grant, Labour has stepped in to defend air traffic controllers after it was announced that more strike action would take place on Wednesday 12th June and in light of recent criticisms in the media.
Rhoda Grant said:
“Air traffic controllers are being left without a voice, drowned out by comment from a flight operator and airport management.
“I met with union representatives of Prospect on the 29th May in Parliament and I discovered that HIAL air traffic controllers in Inverness are paid 12% less than those in Aberdeen, 33% less than those in Edinburgh and 100% less than those in Heathrow.
“The pay gap is even wider for air traffic controllers working on the islands. How is this fair when they have the exact same training as their counterparts elsewhere?
“Members of Prospect are being made to look like their request is unreasonable when, in fact, if the rates of inflation are compared to the air traffic controllers’ pay increases over the last 10 years, the requested pay increase would bring their wages in line with inflation.
“I don’t think this is an unreasonable request especially as their jobs are due to disappear, or they will be forced to move. I can understand completely why they are no longer willing to settle for lower pay.
“The Scottish Government should work out how to resolve this, whether that be paying air traffic controllers more or ending the plans to centralise services.”
Rhoda Grant explained that staff are coming under increased stress without the added stress of political and commercial pressure and criticism in the media.
Members of the Prospect union are asking for their pay to be increased in line with their counterparts elsewhere in the country.
A spokesperson for HIAL said:
“HIAL were preparing a further proposal which we hoped would resolve the current dispute.
“Our proposal recognises the skills of our Air Traffic Control Officers (ATCOs) 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.
“At the same time as we advised Prospect of the new proposal, we requested they suspend further dates for strike action to allow consultation on our offer to take place.
“It is extremely disappointing that Prospect chose 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.”
David Avery , Prospect negotiator 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.”
The next strike to affect HIAL airports is due to take place on Wednesday 12th June, industrial action is also continuing.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame