Categorized | National News

Air Traffic Controllers Threaten To Strike

The Bahamas Air Traffic Controllers’ Union (BATCU) announced yesterday that it has filed a labour dispute with the Department of Labour and the union warned that it will lobby its members to take a strike poll in protest against alleged breach of contract and victimization on the part of the Department of Civil Aviation.

Members of BATCU were joined by several other trade unions at a press conference Tuesday where they outlined a number of their concerns.

Among their grievances, the air traffic controllers contend that their health and safety are being compromised as a result of the poor and unsanitary working conditions they are exposed to.

BATCU President Lashan Gray said that the controllers’ main building facility was left with significant structural damage to its roof from Hurricane Irene back in August 2011. That damage, she said, has compromised the safety of the work environment.

Further, Ms. Gray alleged, the work area has become contaminated with mould.

“A limited section of the facility was closed and our union members as well as our immediate administrative officers and technical staff, continued duties at their own health risk,” Ms. Gray said. “Similar situations still persist today as members of our organization continue to be exposed to adverse working conditions at a compromise to their health while operating from the abandoned terminal building in another facility.

“This office is tightly squeezed between two restrooms where there is a breach in the wall between them. There is significant mould contamination, exposure to rodents and their droppings and even occasional flooding.

Ms. Gray maintained that the Department of Civil Aviation has been complicit in jeopardising the health and safety of its workers who are now forced to take personal responsibility for their health and safety.

She recounted an ongoing situation at the Nassau Terminal Radar Control and Tower facility where workers continuously face water outages leading to staff having to transport bottles of water sometimes as many as nine floors simply to flush the toilets and wash their hands

“These unfortunate situations are allowed to persist in our workplace with little to no regard for the employees and their health and safety concerns,” she said.

Ms. Gray has also alleged that two of the union’s members are being victimized and threatened with disciplinary action for which there is no jurisdiction.

These workers, she claimed were simply acting in the interest of their colleagues who have been forced to work in deplorable conditions.

“They operated fully within their supervisory right of responsibility to protect the health and safety of their co-workers and themselves,” Ms. Gray said. “They also acted in accordance with both international and local regulations in regards to the implementation of their proposed action which was to temporarily suspend the air traffic services which entails significant notification and coordination to ensure that safety of aircraft is able to be maintained.”

The union is demanding immediate action on the part of the Department of Civil Aviation otherwise it has promised to take industrial action.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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