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Air traffic controllers to stage a one-day strike at Highlands and Islands Airports

AIR traffic controllers are to stage a one-day strike in protest against plans to introduce remote airport control towers at Highlands and Islands Airports (HIAL).

Prospect said the walkout on July 29 will mark an escalation in the industrial action, which has been going on since January.

HIAL is planning to centralise operations in Inverness and introduce remote integrated air traffic control services for Inverness, Dundee, Stornoway, Kirkwall and Sumburgh airports.

Campaigners have said this will have a strong impact on local economies and result in redundancies as people are unwilling to relocate from the communities they love and serve.

Prospect’s David Avery said: “HIAL’s plan will remove high value, skilled jobs from economies that can ill-afford to lose them, having a substantial negative impact on those communities.

“Prospect members are not averse to change but it has to be done in a way that maintains jobs and skills in remote communities. HIAL needs to halt these plans now so our members can get on with their jobs.”

The industrial action has so far included staff working to rosters, a ban on overtime, refusing most shift extensions, and refusing to train new controllers.

HIAL said the strike will “inflict additional disruption and inconvenience on passengers,” though it will work to keep this to a minimum. 

Managing director Inglis Lyon said: “This action will inflict additional disruption and inconvenience on passengers at such a crucial time for the communities of the Highlands and islands.

“We ask that Prospect work with HIAL on completing the policy work before considering strike action and to meet with HIAL in the interim to agree how this might happen.”

A Scottish government spokesman said the action is disappointing and encouraged the union to engage, claiming no alternatives have been proposed.

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