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Court Concludes IAA Must Pay Its Air Traffic Controllers

By
Daniel Baxter
 
 

January 30, 2010 - Irelandís Labor Court on Friday issued recommendations with regard to the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) proposal to defer payments of pension fund and pay increases to its air traffic controllers. IAA had reported it could not pay the air traffic controllers a pay increase or pay into their pension fund because the IAA could not afford it. 

January 19th The Irish Aviation Authority, (IAA) was formally notified by the air traffic controllers union, IMPACT that a work stoppage would begin on this day. The stoppage involved workers not working between the hours of 14.00 and 18.00 in Dublin, Cork and Shannon Airports and which would disrupt services at all airports. The Irish Aviation Authority in turn suspended 14 air traffic controllers. IMPACT called for the strike due to an increase in work load, failure to pay into employee pension funds and not paying agreed contract wage increases.  

 

On January 22nd Irelandís Labor Court mediated the actions taken by the Irish Aviation Authority and Irelandís air traffic controllers. The court laid out stipulations that all parties agreed to. The Irish Aviation Authority had reported Irelands Air Traffic Controllers had returned back to work and those Air Traffic Controllers that were suspended were restored to active employment effective 1800 hours on Friday January 22, 2010. Irelands Labor Court proposed those currently suspended would be restored to their work duties effective 18.00 hours, there would be no further work stoppage, the court acknowledged that a bona-fide dispute exists between the parties, and that the court would further review the matter. All parties agreed.  

Irelandís Labor Court ruled on January 29th that the Irish Aviation Authority is in a healthy financial position, the Authority has failed to prove an inability to pay the increased wages and pay into the employee pension fund due under the air traffic controllers agreed contract. In making its recommendations the Court took into account of all relevant considerations, including the prevailing economic circumstances and the need for the parties to address the acknowledged problems relating to the Authority's pension fund.

 

The Court recommends that the original offer conveyed through the IRO, prior to the conciliation conference held on 25th August 2009, should form the basis for a resolution of this dispute. In that regard the Court does not accept that there have been such substantial changes in the circumstances of the Authority since that offer. The court ruled that the Irish Aviation Authority must pay the air traffic controllers. The first phase of 3.5 percent be paid with effect from January 1, 2011,  retroactive to January 1, 2009, and that the second phase of 2.5 percent be paid from July 1, 2011 retroactive December 31, 2009. 

The court has also recommended that that the retroactive money be paid into the pension fund as a once-off cash injection in light of the current deficit in the pension scheme. The Labor Court has also stated that both parties should accept this recommendation on the following conditions. That the Unions and their members commit to full cooperation with normal ongoing change, adaptation and flexibility. That the parties undertake to engage in an intensive process aimed at addressing the current difficulties identified in the IAA's pension scheme. This process should take place over a period not exceeding three months.

Irish Aviation Authority posted a press release that stated ďThe Irish Aviation Authority has received the Labour Court recommendation in relation to the Authority's proposal to defer payment of the increase due under Towards 2016 Review and Transitional Agreement and its proposals to address current difficulties identified in the Authority's pension scheme. The Authority will consider the recommendationĒ.   

 
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