Looming strikes at the north-east’s biggest airport could be averted after bosses offered angry workers an increased pay deal last night.
Union representatives sat down with Aberdeen International Airport top brass for about four hours yesterday as they sought to resolve a pay wrangle which about 200 members of staff have threatened to take industrial action over.
The first of a planned series of three 24-hour strikes has been scheduled for Friday, with the two others to take place in August.
Fears have been raised that scores of north-east families could have their trips thrown into chaos if the action takes place.
But after gruelling negotiations which went on into the evening, representatives from Unite the Union offered holidaymakers some hope that the strikes could be called off at the 11th hour.
Regional industrial officer, Tommy Campbell, said: “The talks have resulted in an improved offer being made, which will now be taken back to union members by our workplace representatives.
“It is the union members who will decide whether the revised offer is acceptable or not.
“We should know within the next 24 hours whether the dispute is off or on.”
It is understood that the affected employees should be canvassed, and a response gauged, by this evening.
Yesterday’s meeting was held under the auspices of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), a government body tasked with overseeing employee disputes.
The threat of strike action arose just weeks after a new domestic arrivals suite was opened as part of a long-term multi-million-pound expansion of the facility.
A spokeswoman for the airport declined to comment on yesterday’s crunch talks, advising that bosses will speak only after learning whether the “improved offer” has been accepted.
Previously, a spokesman defended the pay offer which had been rejected by employees.
He said: “We believe we have made an offer that is entirely fair and reasonable and we are committed to continuing discussions to reach a resolution acceptable to all parties.”
Details of the disagreement emerged last week, when Unite announced that 170 of its workers were planning three days of 24-hour industrial action over the next six weeks.
The move followed a ballot in which 88% of its members rejected two offers from airport bosses.
Firefighters, security and airside staff are among those understood to be affected.
Union members claim both previous offers were below inflation, following similar rises over the past two years, with chiefs branding those offers “derisory”.
Unite’s regional officer Wullie Wallace blasted airport paymasters for investing heavily in improving the facilities while simultaneously offering reduced pay rises.
He said: “The workforce for several years now has received below inflation increases and the company’s idea of rewarding their hard working employees is by offering more real-terms pay cuts.”
Following the first planned strike on Friday, two more have been pencilled in for August 2 and 16 unless common ground can be reached.