Air Traffic Controllers back at work, no penalties for Saturday’s occurrence

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Phillip Goldson International Airport

Phillip Goldson International Airport

Tuesday, February 24, 2015. AARON HUMES Reporting: The air traffic controllers recently taken sick are back on the job following a Monday afternoon meeting with their bosses at the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation, which also featured participation from the Public Service Union (PSU).

The workers claim delays in salary adjustment and increments, faulty equipment and most tellingly, a lack of critical staff.

Ray Davis

Ray Davis

Ray Davis is the Union’s Industrial Relations Officer and the PSU claims 11 members in the Department, although what number of air traffic controllers are in that group he could not say.

Nonetheless, he insisted that Saturday’s events did not represent industrial action of any sort and the meeting was to address long-standing issues that have come to the fore as a result of those events.

According to Davis the workers were able to satisfy management that they had not deliberately not reported to work and used sickness as an excuse; thus, they do not face any penalties for what happened.

The Union and the workers will move forward with a follow-up meeting, continuing their discussions.

Meanwhile, the Ministry trumpeted a return to normal activity, beginning today, Tuesday, and a willingness to work with their staff at the Airport on issues known to be long-standing and sensitive.

Lindsay Garbutt

Lindsay Garbutt

According to Director of Civil Aviation for the Ministry Lindsay Garbutt, the workers say they had nothing to do with the press release sent over the weekend by COLA although COLA’s president and journalist Geovannie Brackett is on record as saying he has been in communication with employees from that department over the last few months.

Garbutt, who has been working in this department for two years, readily admitted that the shortage of staff is crippling to operations and indicated that hiring is ongoing for a job that is technical and more of a career than anything else.

But on the issue of equipment he was more reserved, indicating that machines have problems from time to time, but nothing that would hurt operations.

Nonetheless he also committed to address such problems as may crop up.

Giovanni Brackett

Giovanni Brackett

Meanwhile, Brackett reiterated that many of the points in the organization’s release are valid and said  that Saturday’s events are a warning that must be heeded, adding that the controllers have silent support from their peers at home and abroad.

He made no comment on the workers appearing to distancing themselves from the release and support by COLA.

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