Claim staff intimidated into not cooperating with a controversial overtime call-in system
Members of a trade union committee that represents air traffic controllers have been threatened with potential dismissal as a row over the use of overtime and other issues at the Irish Aviation Authority escalated this weekend.
The nine-member Fórsa-affiliated committee – made up of locally-elected air traffic controllers – could face charges of gross misconduct, according to trade union sources.
IAA has previously accused the committee of intimidating controllers into not cooperating with a controversial overtime call-in system.
“Incredibly, the nine executive members of the Air Traffic Controllers Association (ATCA) have been charged with intimidating their own members,” said an ATCA briefing document sent to Transport Minister Eamon Ryan, detailing its concerns over safety and other issues. “This charge is considered as gross misconduct, a charge that will result in dismissal.”
In a subsequent letter sent this weekend to IAA chief executive Peter Kearney, the branch secretary of ATCA said its membership were “furious about these attacks on their elected representatives”.
“Nine of your operational [air traffic controllers] are working each day with a threat of dismissal hanging over them, a shameful situation,” said the letter, also sent to Minister Ryan and Oireachtas transport committee members.
The branch secretary also attached a letter sent last week by IAA to the home of one union committee member accusing him of “a campaign of disparagement and denigration of the company” because of letters it alleged he sent to “numerous TDs as well as the Minister for Transport.”
“If you do not cease and desist from these activities, then we will be forced to invoke the disciplinary procedure and consider what action needs to be taken to deal with your conduct and this could have most serious consequences for your future with the company,” it said.
More than 160 controllers had signed a letter to Minister Ryan and others last month claiming the system was in crisis due to staffing issues and an over reliance on overtime.
A trade union source said that “a ballot of confidence in the branch committee” is to be held among members. Asked about the threat of dismissal hanging over members of the union committee, an IAA spokesman said: “We do not comment on individual staff matters.”
Last Friday, Kieran Mulvey was appointed as a mediator in the row. The IAA spokesman said this did not point to a failure of its internal dispute mechanism. “Mr Mulvey has been appointed by the IAA’s Internal Dispute Resolution Board (IDRB) to conduct mediation between the Company and Fórsa and will operate under the auspices of the IDRB,” he said, adding that this was provided for in the IDRB Charter. Mulvey is due to report backwithin seven days.