ATCEUC, ETF launch ‘right to strike’ campaign

The Air Traffic Controllers European Unions Coordination (ATCEUC) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) have launched a campaign to oppose what they claim is the European Commission’s intention to shape and limit controllers’ right to strike.

The two organisations also said that the Commission is encroaching on the national sovereignty of EU member states as the right to strike falls outside the scope of the treaties.

“The recommendations of the European Commission that are inside the Communication ‘Aviation: Open and Connected Europe (COM 2017) 286 final’ dated on 8 June 2017 significantly encroach the national sovereignty of member states and contradict the Article 153 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union which clearly states that the right to strike is excluded from EU competencies,” they stated.

A joint petition has been launched calling the European Commission to respect the controllers’ rights enshrined in the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental and to refrain from any actions restricting these rights.

Charles-André Quesnel, chair of the ETF Air Traffic Management Committee, commented: “The Commission directly interferes with the exclusive competence of the member states on this issue. This Communication seeks to reduce ATCO’s ability to defend themselves and to diminish their capacity to raise their voice to maintain and improve the safety of the European sky.”

The two partner organisations said the aviation sector is a very sensitive industry based on a high level of professionalism and complex technology and that by attacking air traffic controllers, the balance of the whole aviation chain could be put at risk.

Volker Dick, ATCEUC president, added: “The right to workers’ representation and collective action are enshrined in the founding Treaties of the European Union and evidence shows that free and independent trade unions make a net positive contribution to productivity, competitiveness as well as safety. This Communication is affecting the right to strike, in full contradiction with the spirit and the content of the European Commission’s initiative for a Social Pillar and the willingness to build up the ‘triple-A social Europe.”

They said the best approach to prevent conflicts and promote good relations is to establish a constructive social dialogue. For this reason, ATCEUC and ETF have developed jointly with the European ATM employers’ organisation CANSO a ‘Toolbox for Successful Social Dialogue’.

“Instead of attacking fundamental workers’ rights, a positive cooperation and a genuine dialogue are needed to sustain the EU growth and the Single European Sky, ensure safe flights and create quality jobs in aviation,” they said.

François Ballestero, ETF political secretary for civil aviation, concluded: “None of the recommendations are referring to practices in member states in which there is no intervention of the legislator and where there is no strike. The practices used by the Commission show its intention to intervene on a matter which is not of its competence. We are confident that our petition will be largely supported.”

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