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Council agrees its position on air traffic management reform, echoing ATM workers’ concerns

The ETF welcomes the Council position on the reform of the Single European Sky. The 27 EU Member States today unanimously endorsed the modified text of the Air Traffic Management (ATM) reform prepared by the Portuguese Presidency.

While the Member States made it clear they support the overall objective of the proposed reform – to improve the European ATM system – they reject some of the measures proposed by the Commission as they deem them unjustified and lacking a rigorous cost-benefit analysis, a concern the ETF have been raising ever since the Commission SES2+ recast proposal was introduced in September 2020. The Portuguese Presidency has come up with a compromised text reflecting some of these concerns.

National sovereignty takes precedence

The ETF welcomes the following changes introduced by the Members States to the Commission’s initial SES2+ proposal. In particular, the ETF is pleased the Member States and the Portuguese Presidency do not give in to the various pressures and keep in mind the ATM is a critical infrastructure whose purpose is to serve all citizens and travelling public while ensuring safety at all times.

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ETF condemns attacks on air traffic controllers in Albania

Following unilateral salary cuts and the employer’s refusal to negotiate a collective agreement, air traffic controllers in Tirana declared a temporary inability to work due to stress earlier this week. As a consequence, more than a dozen flights to and from Tirana International Airport were cancelled.
Albanian authorities reacted to this decision by force and sent in troops and police to clear the air traffic controllers out of the flight control tower. There have also been several reports of air traffic controllers being arrested or taken into police custody. Meanwhile, prime minister Edi Rama threatened legal action against protesting workers and threatened to fire those who refused to return to work.
This unnecessarily violent response by the state only aggravates an already difficult situation workers are facing after more than a year of uncertainty and stress.
The ETF stands in solidarity with the protesting workers and condemns the aggressive backlash of the state. The right to protest and the right to strike are fundamental rights of workers and must be respected. We call on the state to recognise the key role of air traffic controllers and engage in a constructive dialogue.

ATCEUC and ETF Statement on Fundamental Review of EUROCONTROL Agency’s activities by Deloitte

On the initiative of its Director General Mr Eamonn Brennan, EUROCONTROL commissioned a “fundamental review” of the Agency’s activities. The contract was awarded to Deloitte in September 2020 and a final report was published at the end of January.
Both ETF and ATCEUC agree that despite its ambitions, the review and its 17
recommendations appear nothing more than a collection of incoherent statements, without any in-depth analysis of their effectiveness, their impact or their cost. It is extremely surprising that Deloitte considered this report fit for publication: for one, it clearly goes well beyond the terms of reference, to the point of suggesting significant institutional changes to the Agency’s setup – something that was explicitly excluded from the scope of the review.


Charles - André Quesnel, Chair of the ETF ATM Committee, added: “The review makes vague,completely unsubstantiated projections of cost savings while clearly risking disruptions to service delivery of Maastricht UAC, Europe’s only cross-border ATC centre, and other essential services of the Agency such as training and research and development. Some recommendations will substantially increase the costs for the airspace users and Member States, as Mr Brennan appears to be prepared to drastically change the core mission of the Agency as an independent and neutral entity at the service of both the States and the airspace users.”


Volker Dick, President of ATCEUC, noted: “While the report is concerning in itself, we are extremely disturbed by the methodology, or more precisely the lack thereof, that Deloitte used. All stakeholders were asked different questions, and we have the distinct impression that staff representatives were only included to give an impression of objectivity. None of the
questions we were asked, and certainly none of the answers, are reflected in the report.”
Mr Dick continued: “The study is nothing more than a very obvious attempt from Mr Brennan to hollow-out the EUROCONTROL Agency and to push more things towards privatized subsidiaries of the larger ANSPs. The distress this review has caused within the Agency and beyond – the study recommends a privatized Maastricht UAC takes over the Karlsruhe
airspace – is considerable. Many of our members have expressed anxiety and concerns for their immediate future. In a safety-critical, operational environment and during a global health crisis of unseen proportions, it shows a complete lack of managerial responsibility for the well-being of the Agency’s staff!”

COVID-19 and aviation: Time to rethink!

Covid-19 demonstrated that aviation is a critical strategic infrastructure and service, providing essential connectivity, promoting socio-economic cohesion and timely supply of goods, thus serving our societies.

The professionals working in aviation – who provide a safe & dedicated service – are a crucial part of the aviation ecosystem: both before, during and after the crisis, and any potential recurrence thereof, and during the recovery – which is expected to be of unpredictable length.

This strategic infrastructure, service and its people deserve priority attention. To do so, policy-makers and aviation stakeholders must use the crisis to rethink the ‘old’ system and to ‘repair’ its structural weaknesses and distortions that the crisis revealed – which, if unaddressed, will hinder the recovery, weaken the aviation sector, and harm the public interest.

The statement is available here.

This ETF statement is identical to and supportive of the statement by other aviation professionals’ organisations available here.

ETF to stop all activities linked to DG MOVE in ATM field over attacks to jobs and working conditions

ETF has decided to stop all activities related to DG MOVE in the air traffic management field for the next three months, after receiving several reports of employers being pushed by two of DG MOVE officials to lower ANSPs’ labour costs. ETF believes these activities are in line with the interests of airspace users. However, their interests cannot be protected and favoured over workers’ interests. This demonstrates, once again, the strong influence of airspace users over the European Commission to the detriment of other actors in the aviation system.

With these actions, the Commission has overstepped the boundaries of its role. Its duty is not to come up with such suggestion, as the institution does not have any competences regarding working relations between employers and employees. Such behaviour is also in conflict with the work of national authorities and tries to undermine them. National authorities have taken different approaches to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, and many put various employment protections in place to prevent a social crisis. It is unclear why two European civil servants believe it is in their power to push for laying off ANSPs’ employees and cutting their pay.

The main motive behind these lobbying efforts seems to be a desire to take advantage of an already difficult situation for the aviation industry. ANSPs have been facing a total absence of revenues since the beginning of March while maintaining 24/7 services. The work and dedication of ETF members need to be recognised, and all efforts directed at supporting ATM employees, instead of lobbying against them.

After providing continuous and flawless service during COVID-19, helping bring European citizens home and transport masks and other vital health care equipment, the news of DG MOVE working against ANSPs’ employees is a slap in the face. ETF condemns the civil servants’ actions during these already difficult times for aviation workers around the continent and demand clarifications on the subject. Until then, ETF is stopping our cooperation with DG MOVE in the field of ATM.

COVID-19: ETF calls for an aviation rescue plan and EU fund to help protect a strategic industry

European aviation has been amongst the first industries to be impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and will be one of the hardest hit. Support to the workforce and the industry will ensure a lifeline for the sector that will guarantee its recovery after the pandemic. ETF calls for conditional financial aid to aviation-sector companies and immediate support to all workers in civil aviation, with special attention given to the most vulnerable among them.

Workers that make European aviation move are a heterogeneous group – from aircrew, over air traffic management to ground handling, catering and cleaning staff. In large parts of aviation, precarious work prevails over traditional work contracts, and zero-hour contracts or temporary agency work are booming. Precarious workers’ salaries are significantly below national averages and in some cases even below the poverty line. These groups of workers were immediately affected by the COVID-19 crisis as they had no reserve to fall back on.

ETF calls on the European Institutions and the Member States to put in place a rescue plan consisting of direct support for workers as well as conditional financial aid to aviation-sector companies. 

Financial assistance can only be granted if the respective company respects job retention and income protection measures. All aviation companies must be aware of their social responsibility and make sure that their most valuable asset – the workforce – is adequately protected.

Any financial aid to aviation-sector companies should also be conditional on a ban on pay-out of dividends to shareholders in 2020 (as a minimum) and a ban on stock buybacks by companies.

EU must ensure that the European idea of integration and democracy materialises for the working people and specifically for the most vulnerable.

Please download the statement here :

EUROPEAN AVIATION AT CROSSROADS: EUROPE AND MEMBER STATES MUST ACT NOW!

Being the sole representative of all categories of European aviation workers across the whole industry, the ETF Civil Aviation Section reiterates its urgent call to the decision-makers at EU and national level to safeguard the future of European aviation. Our industry is at a crossroads: either the current COVID-19 crisis completely decimates it or we turn the current events into an opportunity to rebuild the sector and learn lessons from the past.
As we already said in our previous statements, urgent measures are needed in the short, medium and long term.

Please download our statement here:

You can also download a joint statement we have published with the other social partners here:

STOP TARGETS ON THE PERFORMANCE SCHEME IN AIR TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT

Prior to the Transport Council of December ETF and the other Professionnal Staff Organisations are giving their views on the actual need and the future of the Single European Sky. The voice of the workers of the european ATM industry needs to be heard.

As representatives of the ATM workers directly involved, we request that there is a pause in the non-achievable targets of the performance scheme. However, we recommend that the SES initiatives focus on realistic and
implementable projects with benefits that can be linked to achievable performance scheme targets. We also demand that the industry and the EU work on common standards that will improve the strongly needed
interoperability of our systems.
Finally, as it started in the EASA, the social impact of any further regulation should be assessed in detail, in order to avoid the mistakes of the past.

THE ETF REJECTS THE MARKET-DRIVEN APPROACH FOR THE SINGLE EUROPEAN SKY!

Following the report on the Future of the Single European Sky drafted by the ‘Wise Persons Group’ (WPG) created by the European Commission, the ETF deplores that the recommendations are oriented to please the airlines to the detriment of the other stakeholders. The ATM staff are more and more critical to the method which consists of listening mainly officials who have a business-driven sensitiveness against the quality of the service. For the ETF, it is clear that the safety and the security of the passengers and the non-flying citizens on ground are paramount.

The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), which represents more than 15.000 Air Traffic Controllers and all the other categories of the Air Traffic Management (ATM) staff, noticed, for instance, that the Social Dialogue doesn’t exist for the ‘Wise Persons Group’ while it is indispensable to smoothly achieve all the changes proposed in the report. At EU level, the social partners can make recommendations to their members notably to create success stories through a good and genuine social dialogue.

The ETF is not rejecting a digital European sky by a progressive increase of the level of automation support, new technologies as well as the use of interoperable systems. Nevertheless, it is obvious that the modernisation of the European ATM leading to a new organisation of the work, especially at the workplace, needs to be carefully monitor notably through a change management process established together with the staff representatives at all levels. It is a pity that staff such as AIS/AIM had no representative in this WPG.

The ATM is a service of general interest and it is the ETF view that safety seems to play a marginal role for the WPG compared to other criteria such as economic performance. It is the case when the WPG proposes to set up an independent competent economic regulator which would oversee the performance of service providers. The ETF is totally opposed to such a body which will be lobbied by the airlines associations, without a public control.

At the same time, Eurocontrol would have more power as Network Manager (NM), with the risk of becoming a new monopoly, which is against the EU policy. The most important is that the WPG does not mention that the first mission of the NM is safety and not a creator of capacity. Strangely, they want to empower it for managing the capacities of the service providers but not towards the behaviour of the airspace users which is causing a lot of inefficiencies in the network.

In conclusion, the ETF calls the European Commission to organise a round table with all concerned parties to discuss this report in order to come to a more balanced approach. There would be a real added value to ask the opinion of all the EU ATM staff representatives to make the Single European Sky more efficient in the future.

RP3 Open letter to EU member States

Following the adoption of the new performance and charging regulation, the Commission is currently in the process of setting the targets for RP3. We have joined with the other PSOs in expressing our concern at the proposed targets. The targets are broadly more of the same that we saw in RP2 and will do nothing to ease the current capacity problems. The level of cost reduction required is worrying and we are having great difficulty in seeing just how capacity can be improved whilst making savings.
At the next Single Sky Committee meeting at the end of March, it is expected that the Member State representatives will vote on the proposed targets. We have, with the other PSOs, written to those state representatives expressing our concern and asking them to push for a modest rise in costs to help resolve the ongoing capacity problems.

info@etf-atm.org