ATC Dispute

Image: Brian Gray

Latest updates:

Please note: as of 12 June all industrial action, including the work to rule, has been suspended pending the outcome of the ballot on HIAL’s revised offer.

Air Traffic Control Industrial Action – Update 12.06.19

Previous updates available here
FAQs in printable PDF format – updated 13 June 2019
Frequently Asked Questions 

HIAL continue to engage with Prospect Union in a bid to resolve the Air Traffic Control Officers’ pay dispute.  We have received a number of questions on the impact of the industrial action and have prepared information in the form of FAQs to help you plan for any potential disruption to travel.


Q: Why are Air Traffic Control Officers (ATCOs) taking industrial action?

A: Prospect Union balloted ATCOs to undertake industrial action to support their claim for a double-digit wage increase in 2018/19 or a long-term commitment to above inflation pay awards.

Prospect have expressed the view that ATCOs in the Highlands and Islands and Dundee should have parity with ATCOs at London airports.


Q: What are HIAL doing to avoid industrial action?

A: As a government sponsored agency, HIAL must follow the Scottish Government pay policy. Under this policy, Scottish Ministers set a remit on pay for most public sector staff in Scotland. The remit sets the parameters for pay increases for public sector staff.

Last year HIAL awarded up to three per cent, which was awarded to all HIAL staff. The pay award received by staff was the maximum allowed within the 18/19 pay remit. HIAL cannot implement pay awards more than that directed by government policy.

HIAL and Prospect jointly undertook analysis of air traffic controller pay at non-HIAL airports. The evidence did not support a double-digit wage award.

Following ongoing talks, HIAL submitted a further proposal on Monday 3 June which we hope will resolve the current dispute. The proposal recognises the skills of our ATCOs and the importance of delivering air traffic management services for the future, and is within the flexibility granted by the Scottish Government to examine a retention allowance for ATCOs.


Q: What form will the industrial action take?

A: Prospect have confirmed that industrial action will consist of:

  • A work to rule, implemented from 1 April
  • A day of strike action on Thursday 23 May 2019

Please note: as of 12 June all industrial action, including the work to rule, has been suspended pending the outcome of the ballot on HIAL’s revised offer.

The following airports have been involved in the industrial action:

Benbecula, Dundee, Inverness, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumburgh and Wick John O’Groats.

Please note that Barra, Campbeltown, Islay and Tiree are not affected by the industrial action.


Q: If reinstated, what is involved in the work to rule?

A: Prospect has notified a work to rule includes: instruction to ‘work to rosters’, ‘refusal of non-medical extensions’, ‘an overtime ban’ and ‘withdrawal of goodwill’.


Q: If the work to rule is reinstated, what is the impact of working to rosters?

A: During any scheduled work to rule, ATCOs will work to their normal rosters. These rosters are designed to accommodate all scheduled flights in and out of our airports during airport opening times.

During normal operations, airports within the HIAL group will routinely work overtime and extend rosters to accommodate scheduled flights that are delayed.

Should the industrial action be reinstated, there will be potential disruption for any scheduled aircraft that is delayed beyond airport opening times.  During any scheduled period of action, you should check with your airline for updates.

Opening hours for airports are published under the relevant airport information pages on this website: Benbecula, Dundee, Inverness, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumburgh and Wick John O’Groats.


Q: What is a ’non-medical extension’ and what would be the impact if the industrial action is reinstated?

A: A ‘non-medical extension’ is a request to open the airport beyond normal published operating times for anything other than a medical emergency.  During a scheduled period of work to rule these non-medical extensions would be refused.


Q: If industrial action is reinstated, what will happen in the event of a medical emergency?

A: For medical emergencies outside of airport opening times, airports within the HIAL group operate well-established local on-call medical emergency processes and this will continue.

Prospect have confirmed that where medical or other emergencies arise during the period of work to rule, or during any scheduled strike action, cover for these will be provided throughout.


Q: If the industrial action is reinstated and a strike is scheduled, will this have an impact on travel for medical appointments?

A: In the event that any scheduled strike action cannot be avoided, affected airports will close to air traffic for the period of the strike. Therefore we are advising passengers who have a medical appointment that requires travel during any scheduled strike action to contact their GP, hospital or clinic to discuss appointment arrangements.


Q: The Union has indicated there will be an ‘overtime ban’ during any period of work to rule. If the work to rule is reinstated, what does that mean for passengers?

A: Normally, where staff are required to work beyond their roster they work overtime, for example to cover staff absence and extension to opening times. During any scheduled period of action, ATCOs will not work any overtime.

Therefore, where there are unforeseen staff absences during normal opening hours, this may lead to airport closures.

If industrial action is reinstated we will monitor this situation on a day-by-day basis and ensure updates are provided to all who may be impacted.


Q: If the industrial action is reinstated, what will be the impact of ‘withdrawal of goodwill’?

A: Prospect have advised that the withdrawal of goodwill relates to internal administration and business support which we anticipate will have minimum impact on our passengers in the short term.

 

Q: If industrial action is reinstated, and a strike is scheduled, will airports be open during scheduled strike action?

A: In the event that any scheduled strike action cannot be avoided, the following airports will close to air traffic for the duration of the strike, unless local arrangements are available:

Benbecula, Dundee, Inverness, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumburgh and Wick John O’Groats.

Prospect have confirmed that where medical and other emergencies arise on the day of any strike action that air traffic control will provide cover.

Prospect will confirm the exact detail of how the cover will operate and HIAL will be in a position to enact appropriate procedures for emergency situations should they arise on the day.

We would advise passengers due to travel from or to affected airports during any scheduled strike action to contact their airline provider.

 

Q: What are my rights with regard to compensation claims in the event of the industrial action?

A:  Individual airlines and travel insurance companies can advise on compensation policy and the process to reclaim costs for any travel and other arrangements affected by cancellation or disruption of flights during a period of industrial action.

Passengers should contact their airline and travel insurance company.

Passenger rights are covered within European Union legislation under EU Regulation 261/2004 and are available on the Civil Aviation Authority website at https://www.caa.co.uk/Passengers/Resolving-travel-problems/Delays-cancellations/Your-rights/Your-rights-when-you-fly/  

HIAL FAQs updated 06 June 2019