Irish air traffic controllers to strike

19 Jan 2010 by Mark Caswell

Members of the IMPACT union working as air traffic controllers are to strike this week in response to the suspension of a number of colleagues by the Irish Aviation Authority. The strike will affect Dublin, Shannon and Cork airports.

The IAA has suspended 15 air traffic controllers who have been refusing to carry out certain duties due to a dispute over pay. In response IMPACT has called for strike action to take place tomorrow (Wednesday January 20) between 1400 and 1800 at Dublin and Shannon airports, and between 1600 and 1800 at Cork airport.

The issue surrounds disputed new work practices, which IMPACT has instructed its members not to co-operate with until an agreement has been reached over pay and pensions.

IMPACT official Michael Landers said the strike action is in direct response to the staff suspensions, and said that as “the core issues [of the dispute] have been referred to the Labour Court… the IAA should not be suspending staff while the process is ongoing”.

For its part the IAA said that it had “no alternative” but to suspend the air traffic control officers, who have been refusing to carry out “normal assigned duties”.

"The aviation industry is on its knees at the moment," said Liam Kavanagh, Director of Human Resources, IAA.  "The ailing airlines, including Aer Lingus, Cityjet, Aer Arann - cannot afford to take on additional costs.  Meeting the 6 per cent pay demand to 300 Air Traffic Controllers would cost 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."

Ryanair has called upon the Department for Transport “to ensure that Ireland’s airports are kept open tomorrow, even if the overpaid, underworked semi-state employees of the IAA monopoly decide to go on strike at a time when traffic to/from Ireland is collapsing”.

Ryanair’s Stephen McNamara said: “There is no justification for any strikes tomorrow by overpaid, semi-state workers at the IAA who despite a recession and the collapse in traffic, enjoy total job security. It is up to the Govt to ensure that Irish airports remain open either by facing down this public sector strike or better still calling in the army to keep air traffic control operating and to prevent these overpaid, underworked, civil servants from shutting down Ireland’s international airports and holding the few visitors and tourists that Ireland has left to ransom.
"If the public sector unions close the airports tomorrow, they should be told in no uncertain terms that job cuts will immediately follow."

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Report by Mark Caswell

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