Eleven high value jobs at Dundee Airport hang in the balance amid plans by the operator to move air traffic controllers to Inverness.
Hial (Highland and Island Airports Limited) is planning to move all its air traffic controller posts to Inverness — forcing those in Dundee to relocate if they wish to keep their current job.
Hial’s air traffic controllers earn between £58,000 and £73,000 a year.
Unions claim the plans also raise safety concerns.
Controllers would use remote tower technology to oversee different airspaces across Scotland.
While they would not oversee more than one airspace at a time, they may have to switch between different regions throughout their shift.
The fight to keep jobs in Dundee
Prospect has threatened to call strike action if discussions stall after members previously voted in favour.
Prospect negotiator David Avery said: “The ballot lasts for six months so we will have to ballot again once that expires if we are to actually call a strike, but that mandate is there.
“We haven’t called one yet because of coronavirus implications.”
Members have previously refused to take part in the project or to undertake training related to the larger project.
Mr Avery said Hial would not look at an alternative proposal that would keep jobs in Dundee.
That would see the radar technology centralised to a single location, but controlled remotely from Dundee and other Hial airports.
“They have been completely unresponsive to that idea for some reason.
“It was in an early list of proposals, but they refuse to go back to it.
“Our members all think that is the best solution as it does offer savings, while not forcing people to relocate.”
“A move to Inverness is a big ask of someone and they feel like they aren’t being given a choice.
“Many have said they would not accept any offer to move.”
Mr Avery said it was unlikely any strike would affect Loganair’s London and Belfast flights at Dundee Airport, which have recently restarted.
Why do Hial want to centralise air traffic services?
The public body claims a shakeup is necessary to modernise its operation in light of “ageing operating models and infrastructure”.
A spokesman said their plan provides a “foundation stone” to address “industry-wide structural deficits”.
Hial announced the plan in 2018. The body expects to complete the move by the end of the decade.
No mandatory redundancies will be made as part of the move. Hial insists the Inverness operation would require the same number of controllers as the current set-up.
The Hial spokesman said it would put safety first.
“Safety has been, and will continue to be, uppermost at each step of the project.”
“Our project has safety, resilience and contingency built in. The regulator would not permit us to do otherwise.”