European Unions Rekindle ATC Strike Plans over 'Single Sky'

 - January 21, 2014, 8:36 AM
An air traffic controller monitors a display at Eurocontrol's Maastricht Upper Area Control Center. (Photo: Eurocontrol)

The trade unions association that planned and then called off a Europe-wide ATC strike last October has scheduled a new job action on January 29 to express its displeasure with proposed amendments to Single European Sky (SES) legislation. The new strike planned by the Air Traffic Controllers European Unions Coordination (ATCEUC) will dovetail with another job action the European Transport Workers Federation (ETF) plans the following day.

The planned job actions coincide with a scheduled January 30 vote by the European Parliament’s transport committee on the SES2+ amendments. The Parliament could hold a plenary vote on SES2+ in March, according to its communications directorate.

The ATCEUC called off the strike it had planned last October 10 after the European Commission (EC) indicated that it would be willing to discuss the safety and cost efficiency targets of the proposed “SES2+” amendments. The association contends that the cost-efficiency goals air navigation service providers (ANSPs) would be required to meet are unrealistic and compromise safety.

One day after receiving assurances from the EC, “we came across an EC proposal (that is) even more unrealistic, clearly showing that the former declaration of good faith…was a big fraud,” the association said in a recent press release. “Although ATCEUC has repeatedly shown its commitment to a real discussion, the EC has continuously disregarded our opinion. This forces ATCEUC, once again, to stand firm” by resuming its strike plans. The association, which is based in Aix-en-Provence, France, says it represents more than 14,000 air traffic controllers across Europe.

The Brussels-based ETF announced in December that its air traffic management (ATM) members would strike “to demand a social dimension” within the SES effort. The federation describes itself as a pan-European trade union organization that represents transport trade unions from the European Union, the European Economic Area and central and eastern European countries. On October 14, it organized a protest against the SES2+ package in front of the European Parliament’s Brussels location. The ETF said 200 ATM staff delegates participated.

“Air traffic controllers and the entire ATM staff will hold parallel walkouts, rallies, meetings and strikes across Europe calling on the European Parliament to stop a never-ending process of liberalization and cost-cutting in the ATM industry,” the federation said. “[T]oday the pressure put on workers is becoming unacceptably high and the ETF will oppose any new package in which the social aspects of the SES are not properly addressed.”