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29 Jan 09 - Air traffic controllers to strike from tomorrow

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29 Jan 09 - Air traffic controllers to strike from tomorrow

Unread post by bimjim » Fri Jan 30, 2009

http://www.kaieteurnews.com/2009/01/29/ ... -tomorrow/

Air traffic controllers to strike from tomorrow
January 29, 2009 | By knews

The drama continued yesterday between the Air Traffic Controllers and the management of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority as employees served a notice of strike beginning tomorrow.

Yesterday, there was no one in the flight information centre promoting a ‘Notice to Airmen’ (NOTAM) to be sent out to alert all flight crews that a service would not be provided once the aircraft is 75 miles from the airport.

A letter sent to interim Director General, Zulficar Mohammed, stated that the Air Traffic Controllers have been mandated by the Guyana Public Service Union to state that they have exhausted all avenues available to them in trying to reasonably and amicably conclude all outstanding matters.

These matters include salaries increases for 2008, outstanding payment of retroactive overtime payments, increase in allowance, NIS refund for sick leave, training, safety and health issues and communication equipment.

The letter stated that workers are dissatisfied with the lack of commitment on the part of the management of the GCAA and the administration to amicably resolve the outstanding matters and to guarantee conditions less favourable.

On January 15 last, the Ogle aerodrome and the approach service at the Cheddi Jagan International airport were left unmanned for a significant period because of the refusal of the air traffic controllers to go beyond the call of duty.

The situation effectively shutdown the airport because without such a service no aircraft could land or take off.

Reports from the control tower stated that the officer on duty had gone on duty early in the morning and was scheduled to be relieved at 16:00 hours.

However, given the shortage of air traffic controllers, there was no immediate replacement.

A source said that the controller was asked to work two hours beyond his specified schedule but the officer indicated that he was in no mental state to undertake work over the longer than necessary period.

The Director of Civil Aviation was duly notified but there remained the vacuum.

Just the day before, a female controller had completed a 24-hour stint having reported for duty at 8:00 hours that day and working at one station until 16:00 hours then moving to man the aerodrome and approach services from 16:00 hours until 8:00 hours on January 15.

The air traffic controllers had threatened strike action several times over monies owed to them by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

They accused the GCAA of unfairly deducting various sums from their pay packets.

The GCAA had said that funds were not immediately available, and that the matter would have been resolved as soon as the administration had attended to the GCAA bank balances.

The air traffic controllers sought the intervention of Minister Robeson Benn, who ruled that, instead of paying some members of staff monies dating back to several years, he would have paid a non-prejudicial, one-off bonus.

Since this sum would have represented a decrease in their emoluments, the Guyana Association of Air Traffic Control Officers (GAATCO) rejected the offer and threatened industrial action. Some of the workers immediately reported sick.

Following this, the Government decided to pay the air traffic controllers.

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