Prospect trade union has agreed to suspend its industrial action by fire and security staff at Highlands and Islands Airport Limited after an improved pay offer from the employer.
Workers have been offered 7%, significantly better than the previous offer of 5% which had been rejected.
Prospect members will now be balloted on whether to accept the offer.
Strike action had been due to take place at Inverness and Dundee on Monday 13th and Friday 17th March – those strikes and the ongoing action short of a strike have been suspended.
Jane Rose, Prospect Negotiator, said:
“This is a welcome improvement to the offer from the employer which we will now be putting to members via ballot, although it is clear there are wider pay structure issues at HIAL which remain to be addressed.
“As a gesture of good faith in the negotiations, and recognising the positive change in the offer from HIAL we will be suspending all industrial action until the conclusion of consultation with members.”
A statement issued by HIAL said:
“HIAL met with the three trade unions, PCS, Prospect and Unite yesterday, Thursday 9 March, and made an enhanced pay offer.
This offer was positively received and will allow the unions to consult and ballot their members. The trade unions have agreed to suspend industrial action while the ballot is underway.
Prospect and Unite will ballot their members. The ballots will run from Monday 13 March to Monday 20 March.
PCS Union will consult with its members and its National Disputes Committee. As HIAL members are part of the national dispute, the strike action planned for Wednesday 15 March will not be suspended. Airports affected will remain open as normal and we do not anticipate any disruption.
We apologise for the disruption this industrial action has caused and would ask passengers to contact their airline if they have any questions on flights.”
Orkney Constituency MSP, Liam McArthur, LibDem said:
“I warmly welcome the decision to suspend industrial action at HIAL airports. This will come as a huge relief to islanders after months of disruption.
“Hopefully a formal agreement can be reached soon, but I would urge Loganair to reinstate services between Inverness and the islands as soon as possible.
“Welcome though today’s news is, it is clear that a deal could have been done some time ago. The Transport Minister needs to explain why it took her so long to give HIAL bosses the same negotiating flexibility that counterparts at CalMac received months ago.
“Scottish Ministers have been playing a game of chicken with the unions over what are lifeline air services. Islanders deserve so much better.”
Rhoda Grant is the Labour MSP for the Highlands and Islands she has also welcomed the news that HIAL had made an improved pay offer. She expressed deep concern that Loganair’s planned response of suspending flights for 6 weeks was harder to reverse.
Rhoda Grant said:
“As soon as I was advised of the suspension of strike action I wrote to Loganair asking them to confirm that flights would be reinstated.
“Unfortunately the response left a lot to be desired, with the CEO advising me that while he welcomed the news, it would take lead time for customers to plan and book flights – something which wouldn’t have been required if the flights hadn’t been cancelled in the first place – and that until a successful ballot was undertaken the news would not be acted upon. In the meantime, NHS Western Isles alone is having to reschedule 500 medical appointments for people, some of which have extremely complex treatment plans.
“It would appear that reinstating flights which have been needlessly cancelled is like stopping and turning a 500,000 tonne tanker. Given that disputes are often resolved before they reach strike action, perhaps Loganair needs to build swift reversal plans into its reaction scheme if it plans to continue having knee jerk reactions.
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