The action started on the anniversary of an imposed 2% pay award in line with Scottish Ministerial pay policy. The offer was a further real term pay cut for controllers whose pay has been suppressed for more than a decade by public sector pay restraint.
Prospect research, based on data from pay negotiations with other employers, shows that HIAL has fallen more than 10% behind other employers within the sector. They already struggle to attract and retain controllers with staff shortages meaning Stornoway airport closing during the day to allow controllers to take a break. The announcement of the remote towers centre in Inverness has also been an influencing factor for controllers looking for work elsewhere.
A proposal was agreed between Prospect and HIAL over Christmas which would have resolved the dispute, increasing controller pay above inflation over three years was rejected out of hand by Scottish Ministers. Further talks at ACAS delivered no meaningful progress.
This summer, more than a year into the dispute, HIAL tabled a formal offer for the first time in the form of a recruitment and retention allowance. This has been rejected by comprehensively by members in a ballot for failing to address the underlying pay problem.
Prospect is continuing to engage with the company to try and get a resolution to the dispute but it will require significant movement from the company.