Air traffic

Irish Aviation Authority accuses air traffic controllers of “act of sabotage”

Senior management at the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) accused the air traffic controllers of seeking to undermine and “sabotage” the company.

In an unprecedented move, the IAA launched a scathing attack on members of its own staff in an internal memo.

In September The newspaper revealed that a group of around 120 air traffic control officers (ATCOs) had written directly to the government expressing concerns about disruption and safety in Irish airspace.

In a letter sent to members of the Oireachtas, the ATCOs made a number of complaints, which were emailed and not communicated through a union, including allegations regarding the safety of the air traffic control system in the Irish airspace. They allege that the problems were caused by list problems and a lack of staff.

In a subsequent statement, the IAA refuted the allegations and called on workers to engage in available industrial relations mechanisms.

The dispute has now escalated with sources claiming ATCOs are “scared and afraid” of facing internal disciplinary proceedings for raising their concerns.

The IAA letter, sent to staff on Monday and seen by The newspaper, said part of the workforce is seeking to destroy the reputation of the Irish Aviation Authority by publicizing their internal labor issues.

The letter said the efforts to raise awareness of their plight were an “act of sabotage.”

The management letter states: “Over the past few weeks, a small number of colleagues have sought to publicly damage the IAA.

“In the meantime, the vast majority of IAA staff do not wish to be associated with this and are focused on rebuilding the business after the devastation of Covid-19.”

The management letter also rejects suggestions that safety is an issue in the IAA.

“Unfortunately, some colleagues have sought to undermine our reputation for safety and to question the integrity and professionalism of the management and staff of the IAA.

“You are aware of recent leaks to politicians and the media of issues related to unofficial industrial action by representatives of the ATC branch.

“It is clear that this unofficial action is not supported by the Fórsa union. As previously indicated by the Director of Human Resources, these leaks will be fully investigated, ”the letter added.

Management correspondence strongly criticized the letter sent to members of Oireachtas by disillusioned ATCOs.

“An email recently circulated to the Minister of Transport and members of the Oireachtas Transport Committee makes false, misleading and damaging claims about the safety culture, professionalism and integrity of all of us within the IAA.

“It’s an act of sabotage. It aims to destroy the reputation that we have strived to achieve and maintain, ”the management letter reads.

Sources said some air traffic control officers are concerned about the content of management correspondence.

“This letter really shocked people and especially the way it was said to be investigating this now,” a source said.

“The letter that was sent, by well over 100 ATCOs, was sent because they are running out of steam with the way they are being treated.

“The workers are not trying to sabotage anything – this was written because of the concerns and pressure they are under,” the source said.

Sources said the letter attacks “a small number of colleagues” who have “sought to harm the IAA.”

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“It basically says that anyone who speaks is damaging the reputation and business of the company when the organization is disbanded,” they said. The newspaper.

“They [the IAA] are adamant that they want us to stay inside the internal industrial relations workings of the company – but that’s the problem, they don’t work because the company doesn’t want to engage.

“Some TDs have sent responses and this has been raised in Dáil, but yet there is nothing from the government or, for that matter, the company – they are just rushing the changes.

“The fact that the Ministry of Transport never responded [to the letter sent by the ATCOs] really says it all. We have no one to turn to – obviously there was no choice but to raise the concerns with the media because the government and the company are not listening, ”the source added. .

The IAA is responsible for the management of Irish controlled airspace, the regulation of Irish civil aviation safety and the oversight of civil aviation security in Ireland.

Under a government directive, the regulatory function must be separated from the commercial side, which provides commercial air navigation services. This separation process is currently underway.

In September, in response to The newspaperAs part of its investigation into industrial relations issues, Fórsa and the IAA called on workers to engage in internal industrial relations mechanisms.

In response to a question, the IAA said, “Communication with staff is an internal and confidential matter. We do not discuss such communications in public ”.

Fórsa and the Ministry of Transport have been invited to make a statement.

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