Following the day of strike action on Thursday 23 May, we felt it would be helpful to set out the different steps the company has taken in an attempt to resolve the current dispute and to clarify a number of issues.
Payment of the 18/19 Pay Award
The company was first formally advised of the dispute as a result of the 18/19 pay negotiations. The company has a collective agreement with three trade unions to discuss pay for all staff as a single bargaining unit – with any accepted pay award being implemented for all HIAL staff.
However, in 18/19 Prospect took the unusual step of balloting their members by specialism despite the collective agreement.
This resulted in an anomaly as the outcome of the ballot was for an overall majority of acceptance of the pay award, albeit that it had been rejected by Air Traffic Control (ATC) staff.
Following clarification, Prospect advised the company that all staff should receive the pay award as the overall ballot result was for acceptance. Therefore, all Air Traffic Control Officers (ATCOs) received the 18/19 pay award in line with other staff groups.
HIAL/Prospect Joint submission to Government
The pay award made in 18/19 exhausted the pay remit available to HIAL. Any additional award to staff requires authority from Scottish Government.
Therefore, HIAL and Prospect worked together to prepare a joint submission to the Scottish Government and a copy of this submission was shared with all ATCOs.
The paper requested consideration of two options; an increase to basic pay or a recruitment and retention allowance. Following consideration, the Scottish Government advised HIAL that they had not been persuaded by the arguments in the paper of the need to increase basic pay. They did however accept that, as a result of wider issues associated with the Air Traffic Management (ATM) programme, that there may be a case to consider a retention allowance for ATCOs.
Following this feedback HIAL engaged with Prospect to discuss a possible retention allowance. Prospect rejected this proposal, advising that they would not be willing to engage in any discussions that linked a retention allowance to the ATM programme.
The Scottish Government have continued to reiterate their position that there is no basis for the pay award claimed and are unwilling to reopen discussion on the 18/19 pay award. In addition HIAL have been advised that the pay settlement for 19/20 must fall within the parameters agreed for all government bodies. This would amount to a pay award of two per cent for the majority of this group of staff and an increment, or a one per cent non-consolidated payment.
The government have encouraged HIAL and Prospect to consider other alternative means of resolving the dispute.
HIAL have continued to explore alternative options and put forward a proposal to Prospect on a review of the pension scheme. This proposal would have seen additional flexibilities for staff and in return would have given individuals the option to review their pension contributions, thus releasing monies that could have resulted in increases to basic pay.
The company recognised that such a proposal would raise a considerable number of questions and would require significant work from a range of specialists before a final proposal could be put to staff. Despite extensive talks facilitated by ACAS this proposal was rejected by Prospect and no further work has been undertaken on this option.
In summary, the Scottish Government have sent a clear message to HIAL and Prospect that HIAL must adhere to the public sector pay policy and will not support a settlement based on an increase to basic pay.
Throughout this dispute, they have also been clear that the solution to the dispute must come from within HIAL and Prospect.
Despite a range of proposals submitted, we have not been able to identify a solution that may be acceptable to Prospect. However, we are willing to revisit alternative options, including a retention allowance that recognises the skills of our ATCOs and the importance of delivering air traffic management services for the future.
Throughout this process our aim has been to be open, honest and transparent and we will continue to provide you with regular updates on our progress to resolve this dispute.