Guidelines on Minimum ATC Service During Industrial Disputes

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Guidelines on Minimum ATC Service During Industrial Disputes

30TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE, Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, 22-26 April 1991

WP No. 73

Guidelines on Minimum ATC Service During Industrial Disputes

Introduction

The IFATCA policy regarding national disputes states:

“ The Federation recognises the unfortunate economic circumstances affecting the third parties which arise from time to time as a result of disputes between controllers and their employers. However, it is also recognised that as a last resort controllers have the right, and may find it necessary, to withdraw their services from their employer in order to bring about a resolution to a dispute. In those cases where an MA determines that the withdrawal of services is an appropriate course of action for the resolution of a dispute, they should provide as much advance notice as is practicable to industry and users.”

 

It is a fact that recently ATCOs took recourse on several occasions in withdrawing services as a means to stress their demands when involved in an industrial dispute. At the IFATCA 1990 Annual Conference Committee C adopted following definition of the term “Minimum Service” :

” Minimum service is defined as actions confined to operations that are strictly necessary to avoid endangering the life, personal safety or health of the whole, or part of the population.”

 

At the IFATCA 90 conference SC4 was charged to “give guidelines on how to define minimum ATC service”.

Discussion

ATC is an essential part of the air transport industry. This industry will come to a complete stop within a region if Air traffic controllers there withhold their services. The ILO states with regard to the limitation of the right to strike in those branches where a total and continued standstill could lead to an acute situation, that :

” this limitation should only cover those operations that are strictly necessary to preserve life, security and health of people.”

 

On the other hand, the ILO also states with regard to the extent of minimum service to be provided that :

” it should not be so great as to render the strike ineffective in practice because of its limited impact.”

 

The dependence on air transport of a society is decreasing with the time of pre-warning it is given, that it is to lose this transport facility. An early warning will allow a society to make arrangements not to be dependent on air transport for its vital needs. The availability of air transport could remain vital for individuals in need of medical care that cannot or can only be obtained at a certain place. The air transport industry is of variable importance to certain regions and communities. The standstill of air transport in a small country, surrounded by other unaffected countries, will have far less consequences for the population and the general economic situation, than when such a country were isolated in the middle of an ocean or were difficult accessible by other means.

The withdrawal of ATC services in one unit will affect the operations in other units, especially in those adjacent to the affected area. Although the air transport industry is by its nature the most internationally oriented, the ground based, elements amongst which ATC, are heirs to their local cultural and social background. In some societies, strikes are generally accepted and used as a means to stress the point of the employees, whilst in other societies it is the ultimate means to do so. Due to the fact that some MA’s already have agreements in place on minimum ATC service to be provided during industrial disputes, SC4 believes that it is not feasible and that it could be counter-productive to produce a definitive list of minimum ATC service.

Conclusions

Elements that certainly deserve attention when determining the minimum ATC service ATCOs should provide during industrial action are: safety, the geographical position, cultural and social tradition and legal provisions. The nature of the operations, the geographical location, the legal provisions on industrial action and the social traditions in the areas of representation of the Member Associations are too diverse. Therefore, it is impossible for SC4 to recommend which services should be provided as minimum ATC service, but it should not be so great as to render any industrial action ineffective in practice because of its limited impact.

Recommendations

It is recommended that Member Associations establish a policy on minimum ATC service that their members should provide when engaged in an industrial dispute.

It is recommended that Member Associations seek an agreement with the appropriate authorities on the minimum ATC service ATCO’s will provide when engaged in an industrial dispute.

The minimum ATC service agreed to should not be so great as to render any industrial action ineffective in practice because of its limited impact.

The use of TIBA to circumvent an industrial dispute constitutes a misuse of the procedure and should not be used to circumvent an industrial dispute.

Last Update: September 20, 2020  

December 4, 2019   274   Jean-Francois Lepage    1991    

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