Air traffic control staff at several Scottish airports in the Highlands and Islands have announced a series of strikes for later this month in a dispute over pay.

Members of the Prospect union have rejected a pay deal proposed by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL), which manages 11 hubs across Scotland. The union says it tabled a counter proposal, but the company dismissed the bid at a meeting last Thursday.

Now Prospect has warned passengers of three 24-hour strikes affecting various airports at the end of July – Inverness on the 21st; Sumburgh, Kirkwall and Wick on the 22nd; and Dundee, Stornoway and Benbecula on the 23rd.

HIAL has announced it will close Inverness on 21 July, Sumburgh and Kirkwall on 22 July, and Stornoway, Benbecula and Dundee on 23 July.

The latest strikes follow on from industrial action taken in May over the same dispute, which resulted in HIAL closing several airports including Inverness.

Prospect claims there are discrepancies between the pay for HIAL air traffic control staff and those working at Edinburgh, Glasgow and London airports. In May the union said the company’s MD Inglis Lyon was “antagonising” staff “by presenting a deliberately misleading account of the position of their union in this dispute”.

David Avery, the union’s negotiating officer, commented: “While we will seek to avoid disrupting major events as much as possible, any strike action is disruptive by its nature, particularly during the school holidays. We would like to reiterate that we have been seeking to resolve this dispute for more than a year and this action is only being taken as a last resort.”

HIAL counters that it offered air traffic controllers a pay deal that would have seen them receive an additional £10,000 over a five-year period and that Prospect’s proposal “significantly exceeds the flexibility and affordability of a publicly own organisation”.

Lyon said: “We are dismayed that Prospect has announced further days of strike action and apologise sincerely to our customers, passengers and local communities for the continued disruption. It is disheartening to have received a counter offer from Prospect that is beyond our affordability…

“The continued industrial action is having a significant impact on our communities and the airlines operating from our airports. We would encourage Prospect to revisit the offer and bring this dispute to an end.”

Meanwhile, Prospect says it will continue work to rule industrial action.

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