Ireland’s Air Traffic Controllers Go Out On Strike





Ireland’s Air Traffic Controllers Go Out On Strike

By Mike Mitchell

January 20, 2010 - On Tuesday The Irish Aviation Authority, (IAA) was formally notified by the air traffic controllers union, IMPACT that a work stoppage would begin today. The industrial action scheduled by IMPACT will involve work stoppages between 14.00 and 18.00 in Dublin, Cork and Shannon Airports and will disrupt services at all airports.

The Irish Aviation Authority this morning suspended a further two air traffic controllers. This brings to a total of 14 the number of controllers now suspended because they have stopped doing work on a number of ongoing projects, work they had already been doing for the last two years.

The IAA is calling IMPACT to desist from this action, to defer the 6% pay claim, to pay a pension contribution like everyone else in the public service, and to return to normal working. "We had no option this morning but to suspend 14 Air Traffic Controllers," says Liam Kavanagh, Director of HR.

More than 120 flights in and out of Ireland were cancelled Wednesday when air traffic controllers staged a four-hour walkout in a bid for higher pay. The Irish Aviation Authority employs 300 controllers at Ireland's airports in Dublin, Cork and Shannon. "These Controllers have stopped doing work on a number of ongoing projects - work they have already been doing for the last two years.  We cannot function effectively if Controllers refuse to carry out ongoing work." 

IMPACT has instructed Controllers not to co-operate with a number of ongoing technology projects unless the Authority pays for such changes.  Ongoing change is a core part of the IAAs work as the airlines demand greater efficiency and the European commission has challenged all Air Traffic service providers to become more efficient and embrace change. "We cannot function if we have to pay people every time we upgrade a system," Liam Kavanagh says. "The real issue here is money. Air traffic controllers want two things: 

Irish Aviation Authority has stated the union wants a 6% pay increase agreed in the last partnership agreement - despite the fact that the whole world has been turned on its head since that agreement, the industry is in trouble, and volumes of work are decreasing. And they do not want to pay anything towards their pensions - even though all other public service staff now pay the pension levy. The Controllers make no contribution to their own pensions. The Authority, meanwhile, pays a contribution of 30.5% of salary for every member of staff. 

“We want them to be reasonable and defer discussion of this 6% increase.  We have told them we will be happy to review it in 2012.  And we want them to make a contribution to their own excellent pensions, in line with everyone else in the public sector.  We have not cut salaries.  We are not cutting jobs."

"These are very well paid staff," Kavanagh continues. "Yes, they do highly important work - and accordingly we pay them very well.  A Controller will typically earn a basic salary of over €112,000.  When you include PRSI and the pension contribution of 30.5% of salary that the IAA pays, this gives a total package of almost €160,000.  When you contrast that with other public sector staff - teachers, nurses, gardai, all of whom are paying a pension levy, these are very well paid staff, with a gold-plated defined-benefits pension scheme. “Increases paid to Controllers in the last ten years have also been incredibly generous, according to Kavanagh.  

Since 1998, people whose pay is linked to the consumer price index would have gone up by 38%. National Wage agreements have given people 55%. Air traffic controllers, however, have gone up by 92% in that same time.  And they now want an additional 6%. Paying this 6% would cost the IAA an additional € 6 million each year. This cost would have to be passed to the airlines who fund the IAA - the Authority receives no State funding.  

“Controllers work a 35 hour week," says Kavanagh. "They are entitled to a break of 30 minutes for every two hours worked. They work five days and then get three days off. They work 182 days a year, they have 137 rest days, and 36 days holidays, in addition to 10 public holidays" 

The airlines cannot afford to pay any increases in this climate. "The aviation industry is on its knees at the moment," says Kavanagh. "Airlines facing tough times - including Aer Lingus, Cityjet, Aer Arann - cannot afford to take on additional costs.  Meeting the 6% pay would cost the Authority an additional € 6 million per year. This would have to be passed on in its entirety to the airlines since we in the IAA receive no funding from Government." 


Ireland’s Air Traffic Controllers Return To Work Under Court Supervision

Irish Aviation Authority Suspends Striking Air Traffic Controllers

 ©AvStop Online Magazine                                                                 Contact Us                                                  Return To News


AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

Grab this Headline Animator