Strike action at airports suspended after new pay offer

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Planned strike action involving airport fire and security staff in the Highlands and islands has been suspended as a union considers a new pay offer.

Prospect union members at Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (Hial) had been due to walk out on Monday and next Friday in a dispute over pay.

However the union said it has agreed to suspend the action after an improved offer from the employer.

It said workers have been offered 7%, which it described as significantly better than the previous rejected offer of 5%.

Prospect members will now be balloted on whether to accept the new offer.

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.”

Hial said it met with the three trade unions involved – PCS, Prospect and Unite – on Thursday and made an enhanced pay offer.

Inglis Lyon, Hial managing director, said: “The new business case presented to Transport Scotland at the beginning of the week was approved and allowed us to make an improved pay offer.

“The trade unions welcomed this offer and have confirmed that they will now ballot their members on acceptance.

“We look forward to the outcome of the ballot and are hopeful for a positive result to resolve the current industrial dispute.

“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.”

Shauna Wright, Unite industrial officer, said: “Unite can confirm that we have received a new and improved pay offer from Hial.

“Unite’s members are currently being balloted on this offer, which Unite has welcomed as a significant step forward by the company but ultimately it is in the hands of our members who will make the final decision.

“All proposed industrial action involving Unite members is now postponed until we receive the ballot result on March 20.”

The PCS said it will consult with its members and its national disputes committee.

It said strike action planned for next Wednesday will not be suspended, however it said airports affected will remain open as normal and no disruption is anticipated.

Earlier this month Loganair 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.

It said it now aims to resume services as soon as it is practical.

A Loganair spokesman said: “We warmly welcome this positive step forward in negotiations between Hial and their unions.

“Loganair aims to resume services from Inverness to Kirkwall, Sumburgh, Stornoway and Benbecula as soon as it is practical to do so and we will issue further updates in due course in line with the ballot outcome.”

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “We welcome the progress made by Hial and the unions and call on airlines to reinstate services as soon as possible to minimise disruption to communities affected.”

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