Business Irish

Sunday 19 November 2017

Labour court ruling ends airport dispute

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

AIR traffic controllers have agreed to use new technology at the centre of a row that paralysed the three main airports.

Over 20,000 passengers were affected when the workers downed tools at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports for an afternoon last Wednesday, January 20.

They took industrial action after their employer suspended 14 of them for refusing to work on a computer programme and three other new projects.

Their union Impact argued that the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) should not have imposed the suspensions as the dispute had been referred to the Labour court.

Industrial action was called off after the parties agreed to attend talks at the court.

However, in a legally binding decision released yesterday, the court backed the IAA's position.

Labour court chairman Kevin Duffy said the new technology projects did not go beyond the parameters of "normal ongoing change".

He said it was self-evident that air traffic control services were delivered through advanced and sophisticated technologies.

"The authority must be in a position to avail of new systems as they become available so as to keep abreast of developments internationally and at European level," he said.

"It is also clear that none of the changes proposed will impact detrimentally on the terms and conditions of employment of the staff affected," he said. "Nor is there any evidence that the changes will lead to either cost savings to the authority or increases in its revenue."

Impact had claimed the work meant extra duties and the workers should be compensated appropriately.

The IAA argued that the work constituted normal duties and the air traffic controllers had been prepared to do it last year, before their union instructed them to refuse to co-operate.

The IAA welcomed the court's conclusion that the disputed projects did not go beyond the parameters of normal on-going change.

An Impact spokesperson said its members "had expressed very clearly last week that they would adhere to whatever recommendation the court would make".

Irish Independent

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