Intimidation of the Controller

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Intimidation of the Controller

19TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE, Toronto, Canada, 05-09 May 1980

WP No. 59

Intimidation of the Controller


SC7 has during the past year followed instances of coercion upon the Controller that amounted to intimidation. These instances varied from court action on criminal charges as in the case of Greece and Italy to the continued suspension of controllers from their duties as in the case of France and Germany. In this latter case the suspension of controllers had been sustained for many years, despite the fact that recently one such controller had been reinstated but at a lower salary scale. German colleagues had by deducting part of their salaries made up the salaries of the suspended controllers. The cases of Greece, Italy and France though, they may bear some resemblance with each other they in effect have their own characteristics, as you will see in the discussion part of this Working Paper. Nevertheless, they are all cases of overt intimidation. Though reference will only be made to the three most recent instances, namely, France, Italy and Greece, members should bear in mind that there may be instances that SC7 has not become aware of or is not in possession of details as is the case of Portugal and Sudan.

It will eventually become obvious as we progress in the WP that administrations have, in the instances under consideration, resorted to different action against the Controllers than previously.


Greece: Though the situation may seem to have been resolved, Controllers in Greece have late last year been criminally sued, according to the indictment for “delaying tactics that endangered the safety of air traffic”. Pilots have been used by the administration to ground their charge against the controllers.

Italy: Following their threat of mass resignation, Italian Controllers have managed to achieve the Government’s assurance that civilianisation of Air Traffic Services will be effected as from 1st January 1980. To the world of Controllers amazement court proceedings were commenced against controllers on charges for breach of military law. Charged controllers are liable to 7 years imprisonment.

France: Following slow down tactics the French Government had suspended a number of air traffic controllers for different periods of time.

In the cases of France and Greece members will recall that the respective Governments had in the past replaced civilian controllers by military ones as a means of counter action against the controllers. Whether or not the new methods adopted will be more effective it remains to be seen.


SC7 believes that mere passive or moral support to MA’s in circumstances of coercion or intimidation is not sufficient to see them through their problems. Supporting messages though they may be taken notice of by administrations they can equally be thrown into the wastepaper basket. It may be easy to suggest some kind of revolutionary action as a means of supporting associations but we must be realistic and consider local conditions existing in the various countries. There are instances where professional associations in one country may instruct their members to adopt industrial action in support or as a means of solidarity of another association in another country. There are, however – a great number of them – associations that are in no position to render any support to another association either because their constitution does not provide for such possibilities or the country’s laws prohibit it. The question then may be asked; Is there a member association that can positively assess the assistance it may receive from another affiliate member? The reply would most certainly be in the negative. There have been instances where even a simple supporting message meant illegality for some member associations.


IFATCA Circulars, October, November and December 1979.

Circular Letter of the President to MA’s dated 18.11.79.

Last Update: September 19, 2020  

November 23, 2019   295   Jean-Francois Lepage    1980    

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