There will be an escalation in industrial action by air traffic controllers at HIAL (Highland and Islands Airports Ltd) over their plans to push on with the controversial Remote Towers Project.
The trade union which represents the workers, Prospect, has given notice to HIAL that workers in Air Traffic Control will be escalating their industrial action over the Remote Towers project.
Unless HIAL changes tack nearly 50 staff will be made redundant with HIAL needing to recruit a similar number in Inverness at very significant expense to the taxpayer.
The escalation of industrial action will include: work to rosters; overtime ban; refusal of extensions except for search and rescue, emergency and medical flights; refusal to commence training of new controllers not within the business on the date of the commencement of the ballot on the 30th of November 2020 .
This action is in addition to the continuous action short of a strike notified on the 21st of December 2020, which started on 4 January 2021, consisting of a refusal to engage with the proposals and planning to close ATS workplaces, centralise in Inverness and downgrade airports within HIAL which remains in effect.
David Avery, Prospect negotiator, said:
“Prospect has presented a raft of evidence against remote towers, including an independent report into its viability, and HIAL’s own impact assessment published recently shows the negative impact it will have on communities, but HIAL are pressing on regardless. This is the wrong plan and at a time when aviation is being decimated by the pandemic there are better things to spend taxpayers’ money on.
“HIAL claim that the current system is inflexible and unsustainable, this is simply not the case. Staff come in early and stay late to accommodate aircraft to ensure that their local communities remain connected. Where there have been staffing problems in the past the staff have gone above and beyond to ensure airports remain open.
“It is not too late for HIAL and the Scottish Government to think again, cancel this harmful project and come up with an acceptable way to modernise services.”
HIAL is a public company owned by Scottish Government Ministers. It is managed by a Board of Directors, none of whom live in the islands. The centralisation of Air Traffic Control to a remote system in a building in Inverness will have a ‘very significant’ negative effect of island economies according to an Islands Impact Assessment .
You can read more about the controversial plans here: