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[BATCU] ATC Sick Out Easter Flight Delays And Cancellations

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[BATCU] ATC Sick Out Easter Flight Delays And Cancellations

Unread post by bimjim » Fri Apr 14, 2017

http://www.tribune242.com/news/2017/apr ... aster-fli/

[BATCU] Air Traffic Controllers 'Sick Out' Causes Easter Flight Delays And Cancellations
RASHAD ROLLE Tribune Staff Reporter
Thursday, April 13, 2017

FRUSTRATED and angry travellers complained of lengthy delays and cancellations at the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) on Thursday after a number of air traffic controllers engaged in a "sick out".

Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna Martin confirmed to The Tribune that the sick out - co-ordinated industrial action by employees not showing up for work by feigning illness - had occurred, adding that the airport put in place a contingency plan to ensure that the interruption in its services would not be too significant on one of its busiest days of the year.

The air traffic controllers were believed to be taking the protest action over a variety of concerns. Domestic and international flights were all affected. Some tourists were reportedly being returned to their hotels and asked to take a flight on Friday.

There were reports of passengers sitting on planes for up to two hours waiting to get airborne and a number of cancellations of flights to the United States. One passenger in Freeport told The Tribune he had been waiting for the 12.30pm flight to Nassau and the plane to take them had not arrived from LPIA until 3pm.

The Easter holiday season is traditionally busy for the airport. In a statement, a spokesperson for the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) said the delays are not unusual for airports around the world at this time of year.

Mrs Hanna Martin, however, said on top of the usual delays, the action of the air traffic controllers on Thursday morning caused travellers an additional delay of about 30 minutes per aircraft.

The issue was expected to be resolved by 2pm, when a new shift of workers was expected to arrive, she told The Tribune. It was not immediately known how many workers called in sick. The Tribune understands all but a few officers were in post on Thursday afternoon and that the backlog was being managed.

Mrs Hanna Martin said the air traffic controllers have a variety of concerns.

"They are talking about holiday pay which is being processed," she said. "They're in discussions with the Minister of Labour about medical insurance. We agreed, first time ever, for them to get medical coverage and they are having some discussions about the terms of it. They mentioned the shuttle which takes them from the checkpoint to the tower. They have a bunch of issues.

"It's unfortunate because a lot of Bahamians are travelling. It's a holiday. They invested their monies. People are coming to contribute to our economy and it's unfortunate that this is what has happened."

It is not the first time recently the air traffic controllers have inconvenienced passengers. In September, a three-hour stoppage by the Bahamas Air Traffic Controllers Union (BATCU) over an Airport Authority protocol mandating security screening of all personnel accessing the secured airside at LPIA caused delays and some cancellations.

Dr Hubert Minnis, Leader of the Free National Movement (FNM), was quick to lambast the government for its failure to pay government employees.

“Today we were given another instance of failed PLP leadership. This trend is unacceptable. We’ve learned that Air Traffic Control has had a work slowdown, forcing 40 planes to a one-hour ground hold. This is a direct result of the PLP government’s failure to ensure that government employees are paid what they are owed, when they are owed it,” Dr Minnis said in a statement on Thursday night.

“The lack of leadership from this government is highlighted every day. To have people working for you and then not to pay them is simply wrong. It follows the PLP’s trending neglect and lack of care for the constituents they’re indebted to help. The members of the government get paid on time. Why do they not treat all Bahamians with the same integrity? This is another case of the PLP taking care of themselves while leaving others to fend for themselves.”

“Under the leadership of the FNM, people will be paid what they are owed. No questions asked. It doesn’t matter if you are a customs employee, an immigration employee, an Air Traffic Controller or any other government employee. We will pay everyone for the service provided. On May 10th, it is time to elect an FNM government that cares.”

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