Prospect the trade union representing air traffic controllers at HIAL have reached a preliminary agreement with the management. An offer will be put to their members shortly.
A number of details are still to be concluded so there will be further talks this week, and a ballot will follow shortly.
As a result Prospect has decided to suspend the work to rule whilst they consult with their members. The work to rule will end at 5pm, today, 19 November.
Orkney Constituency MSP Liam McArthur said:
“This long-running dispute has caused uncertainty and disruption for passengers reliant on these lifeline air services. It is also come at a cost, both financial and reputational.
“I welcome the fact that agreement has been reached at last between HIAL and Prospect, enabling the union to recommend to its members acceptance of the offer now on the table. Hopefully this will allow a resolution to what has been a damaging dispute that has gone on for months.
“In the meantime, confirmation that the work to rule will be lifted pending the outcome of the ballot will come as a relief to the travelling public. The unpredictability of this aspect of the dispute has proved particularly disruptive.
“Looking further ahead, it is also clear that work will be needed to rebuild important relationships that have suffered as a result of the industrial action. Re-establishing trust on both sides is the surest means of avoiding a repeat of such action in the future”.
Commenting on behalf of the Labour party, local MSP Rhoda Grant said:
“After months of stalemate, I am pleased that HIAL appears to have made a more substantive offer to Air Traffic controllers.
“This has been a long time coming, and while the offer obviously still has to be considered and voted on by the Union membership, it is promising that Prospect are recommending it be accepted. This is hopefully an indication that the Scottish Government have finally accepted that the quality of their workers, who have chosen to live and work in some of the Highlands and Islands most rural areas, is deserving of recognition. Today they argued that the staff of the Scottish National Investment Bank should not be bound by public pay.
“The ATC staff are an integral part of our community and always go above and beyond to ensure they serve our communities. I know that they have not relished the work to rule conditions, but have seen it as necessary. The fact that they can now step out from this yoke and go back to doing what they do best in time for Christmas is as much a relief for them as it is for those who will be travelling on flights.”
Rhoda Grant concluded her remarks by raising the question of future of the Air Traffic Control service .
“The potential loss of local Air Traffic Control is still looming and should be of deep concern to the Scottish Government which claims it wants to strengthen rural areas and yet continues to centralise services away from local communities.”