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Published on Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Scottish agents urge 'common sense' to avoid airport strikes

Agents in Scotland are calling for staff and operators at Aberdeen and Glasgow airports to work together to avoid strikes over the next week.

A long-running dispute over pay and pensions will see staff at Aberdeen and Glasgow airports stage two 12-hour walk outs on June 7 and June 10. A further strike is scheduled at Glasgow on June 14.

A spokesperson for AGS Airports, which owns and manages both airports reassured passengers that robust contingency plans are in place to ensure it will be 'business as usual'.

"We have been in talks since January and, despite attending Acas, there continues to be no willingness whatsoever on the part of Unite to engage in any constructive dialogue. We made a significant improvement on our initial pay offer which was increased from 1.8% to 3% in line with demands. This was rejected by Unite without any further consultation with members and the union continues to deny them the right to make a decision on the offer of 3%.

"In regards to our final salary pension scheme, it is simply unaffordable with the cost to the company due to rise to 24.7% per employee. We tabled a generous compensation package for the remaining members, which again was rejected by Unite without first consulting its members."

Ken McLeod, president of the Scottish Passenger Agents' Association, urged both sides to find a resolution without inconveniencing travellers and 'further undermining their confidence in the travel industry on the back of Brexit uncertainty'.

"The travel industry has already suffered this year because passengers are concerned about travelling in a post-Brexit landscape, and now there is this very real threat of industrial action at two of our main airports," he said.

"Whatever the rights or wrongs of the situation, the real losers will be the travelling public who will find their flights cancelled or delayed and their plans for holidays or business travel disrupted.

"On the other hand, the winner could be Edinburgh Airport - where staff are not involved in industrial action - which will quite happily pick up the extra business from travellers who would otherwise have flown from Glasgow and Aberdeen.

"There is still time to resolve this before the first day of action on June 7. I would urge both sides to reopen talks to do everything possible to avoid a strike and allow customers to go ahead with their business and holiday plans."

The SPAA also warned that passengers in the Highlands and Islands could face further flight disruption this summer because of a pay row between air traffic controllers and HIAL, which operates six Scottish regional airports.

Members of the Prospect union have announced plans to stage industrial action on June 12 after talks with HIAL failed to reach a resolution.

A 24-hour strike last month led to the closure of Inverness, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumbrugh, Benbecula and Dundee airports.

"While strikes at airports operated by Scottish government-owned Hial may not affect the same number of passengers, the impact on travellers is perhaps more serious because there are very limited alternative options for travel in these areas," said McLeod.

"We can only hope that, across the board, common sense will prevail and that resolutions can be reached which result in minimal impact on the travelling public."

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