21 March 2023

Airport staff dispute ends after unions accept new pay offer

21 March 2023

A pay dispute which saw airports in the Highlands and islands close due to strike action has ended after unions accepted a revised offer.

The Prospect union said its members working in fire and security for Highlands and Islands Airport Limited (Hial) have voted by almost 75% to accept a revised pay deal for 2022-23.

The union had suspended strike action planned earlier this month while it considered the offer, which it described as significantly better than the previous rejected offer of 5%.

The revised offer provides a 7% increase for those earning up to £44,000, 5% uplift for those earning up to £80,000 and 4% for those above £80,000.

Our members at Hial provide a vital service for the Highlands and Islands and deserve to have their work and skills properly compensated

Unite, which represents security staff, baggage handlers and ground crew along with those working in fire and rescue, security and administration, said its membership accepted the revised pay offer by 93%.

In recent months, Hial airports have been affected by a series of strikes as Unite members walked out over the pay dispute.

Jane Rose, Prospect negotiations officer, said: “We are pleased that Prospect members have accepted this new deal and the dispute can now be brought to an end.

“Our members at Hial provide a vital service for the Highlands and Islands and deserve to have their work and skills properly compensated.

“This deal has required compromise from all involved and I thank Scottish Ministers for giving Hial the authority to reach a deal.

“It is clear there are wider pay structure issues which remain to be addressed and we look forward to working constructively with Hial to tackle these as we move, almost immediately, into 2023-24 discussions”.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “Unite’s members across the Highlands and Islands airports stood firm and fought to achieve a positive result.

“Unite’s members are to be congratulated for leading the fight to secure better jobs, pay and conditions across the Highlands and Islands.”

Hial welcomed the news.

Managing director Inglis Lyon said: “We are pleased that the enhanced offer has been accepted by colleagues.

“The most recent offer exceeded the original flexibility of the Scottish Government pay policy, providing a 7% salary uplift for those earning £44,000 or less, a 5% uplift for those earning up to £80,000, with 4% over that salary level.

“We are sorry that the industrial action and route suspensions have caused considerable disruption for passengers and our customers, particularly for those on our island communities who rely on our airports to support essential and lifeline services.

“We also apologise for the significant impact the action has had on our airline partners.

“This positive result will provide our partner airlines with the certainty they require to plan air connectivity for their passengers.”

Loganair said it will resume flights from Inverness to Hial airports a week earlier than anticipated following the resolution of the pay dispute.

Earlier this month the airline announced it was being forced to temporarily suspend flights from Inverness to Stornoway and Benbecula, and from Inverness to Kirkwall and Sumburgh, due to work-to-rule industrial action.

A Loganair spokesman said: “We have reviewed all possibilities to restore suspended services between Hial airports earlier than initially anticipated and we are happy to confirm that flights from Inverness will resume on Monday April 24, one week earlier than previously planned.”

Hial made the enhanced pay offer when it met with the three trade unions involved: PCS, Prospect and Unite; earlier this month.

The PCS has yet to ballot its members on the issue.

Scotland’s transport minister Jenny Gilruth said: “I’m very pleased that a resolution has been reached and that vital connectivity for our remote communities will be restored as soon as possible.

“Whilst the impact on services has been disruptive for affected communities, I’d like to thank Hial and both unions for continuing to engage constructively throughout this process and ultimately coming to an agreement that will be welcomed by staff and passengers.

“We will continue to work with Hial to grow passenger numbers through their airports with the aim of maintaining the commercial viability of services on which our remote communities depend.”

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