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UKA TC Controllers Threaten Strike

Sun Feb 04, 2001 5:58 pm

Distressing, an interesting PARADOX

Air traffic staff threaten strike

The proposed partial sell-off of Nats is controversial

Air traffic controllers have issued the government with an ultimatum saying they will take industrial action unless it changes plans to part-privatise the service.
The controllers' union, which is against the proposed sell-off of 51% of the National Air Traffic Service (Nats), voted to hold a ballot if ministers refused to consider alternatives.

Negotiations will take place but it will be backed up by industrial action if necessary

Iain Findlay
But the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions said on Saturday night that the public-private partnership would go ahead despite the vote.

The union's national officer said representatives would try to convince ministers otherwise at a meeting scheduled for Wednesday.

If strike action eventually goes ahead, air travel will suffer major disruption, especially during the busy Easter period.

The ultimatum follows a vote on Saturday at the annual conference of the controllers' union, the Institution of Professionals, Managers and Specialists, in Manchester.

'Railtrack of the skies'

A Department of Transport spokesman said: "Demand for air travel is going ahead in leaps and bounds by about 4% a year.

"We need investment in new technology to deal with this and the government believes this is the best way to get the money to fund that. In that way we will ensure safety."

Air traffic controllers fear safety will be compromised.

More planes than ever are using the UK's airports

IPMS national officer Iain Findlay said: "We believe there is another way...a not-for-profit, not-for-commercial company that will actually get all the investment needed.

"Otherwise, we are looking at a Railtrack of the skies.

Last month air traffic controllers voted to reject an £8,000 offer in lieu of 10 days less holidays in order to train on a new £623m control centre at Swanwick, Hampshire.

Controllers are also angry at the introduction of performance-related pay for operational staff.

The government has had three bidders for the 46% stake in Nats which could be worth as much as £900m.

The air traffic controllers will have a 5% stake while the government will retain a 49% stake.

The three consortia are the Airline Group, a group of eight UK airlines including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, Nimus, backed by Serco, the UK facilities management group, and the Lockheed Martin backed Novares group.

Transport minister Lord MacDonald will bring a report back to the House of Commons at the end of the month which will make recommendations on which bidder is successful.

Anyone can fly, only the best Soar.

RE: UKA TC Controllers Threaten Strike

Sun Feb 04, 2001 6:59 pm

The Government in Britain recognise that massive investment is required to update and install new software, as well as train new recruits, if a safe and efficient ATC service is to be provided in the future.

Since they're unwilling to foot the bill, why not part-privatise the service, and get some other companies to part-fund the upgrading? they argue. As mentioned above, airlines seem to be trying to alleviate the situation by bidding for a slice of the newly privatised pie.

ATCer's are still adamant that being owned by a private enterprise will mean profit before safety.

Unfortunately the Labour government have a reputation for not wanting to negotiate-they are not very good at listening to those who will actually be affected by any changes. As a result, the ATCer's going on strike is the only way to make the Gov't sit up and take notice.

I'd much rather the Govt have at least offered to talk with those involved rather than just announce "We're doing this, whether you like it or not".

And I don't really believe in strikes in essential services either.

On the other hand, one could argue that US airlines have always put safety before profit. We are not suddenly seeing US a/c fall from the skies above, so perhaps the ATC union are being a little too cynical in stating that profits would come first.

Time will tell....