Air traffic controllers still frustrated

Air traffic controllers are reporting that all is not well in that department. 

On Thursday, the workers’ bargaining agent, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), disclosed that the staff continued to struggle with a number of long-standing issues related to remuneration and environmental safety. 

Making it clear that the workers were by no means issuing any threats of work stoppages at this time, NUPW deputy general secretary Wayne Walrond told a Nation team that the issues were having a significant impact on the ability of workers to perform their critical functions effectively.

“The staff is complaining about a shortage of manpower, and, as a result, they are suffering from burnout and they need to be adequately compensated for the added workload. They are also requesting that the overtime rate be upgraded, consistent with industry-wide and Government rates, so that they can get a more equitable compensation,” Walrond said. 

He added: “The staff is requesting that their safety and health issues be addressed, noting that, for example, the issues of mould, as well as the issues of the computers in the air traffic control towers, which are creating a lot of radiation and noise pollution. There was discussion about a new tower in the distant future, but in the meantime, there must be immediate attention to these safety and health issues.”

Additionally, the veteran trade unionist said that a case is to be made for an upgrade of some of the equipment.

“The National Union of Public Workers is impressing on the relevant agencies of Government to address the concerns of staff at the Air Traffic Control department as a matter of urgency. These concerns include the need to upgrade the infrastructure to provide an efficient and effective service, including the Select Surveillance System which needs to be fixed. Staff is suggesting that in the interim a Flow Control system is put in place pending that system being rectified,” he explained.

Walrond also noted that tensions were high because of the outstanding reclassification of some workers. 

“We are also asking that the air traffic control cadet upgrade, which was outstanding for over two years, must be addressed as a matter of urgency. A suggestion was put that air traffic control cadets who have tower licence should be upgraded to air traffic control officer three. There is a sense of frustration and disquiet which can escalate into unrest, and we are therefore appealing to the relevant authorities to give urgent attention to these matters,” Walrond said.

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