On the 26th of April 2022, the EU-level ATM social dialogue meeting gathered online at the invitation of the European Commission. While the staff in ATM was represented by around 20 people from all around Europe (most present in person), only one person attended on behalf of the employers, namely a permanent staff of CANSO Europe.

Air Traffic Controllers European Unions Coordination (ATCEUC) and European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), representing workers in ATM, regret the absence of the employers’ representatives at today’s EU level ATM social dialogue meeting.

Gauthier Sturtzer, ETF ATM Committee Chair declared: “For a dialogue to be effective, all parts involved need to be actively engaged with the process and committed to successful outcome. Therefore, during today’s meeting the staff representatives were compelled to request the meeting to be cancelled”.

As jointly agreed in our common “Toolbox for successful social dialogue in air traffic management”, fruitful and cooperative social dialogue is essential for the correct implementation of Single European Sky. The alternative option to fruitful and cooperative social dialogue is an adversarial one that we do not wish for.

Air traffic controllers’ struggle in Poland, Albania, Hungary are examples of how social dialogue can only be productive when both parties are committed to engage and deliver”, says Volker Dick, President of ATCEUC.

Conflicts in some countries are detrimental to the overall network performance and trigger tensions in neighbouring airspaces. In order not to enter a vicious cycle, air navigation service providers must realize that EU level social dialogue impacts the national one and their role is essential in both levels.

While we acknowledge the availability of a number of EU institutions’ officials, our organisations also believe in the essential facilitating role of the European Commission (DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion), including encouraging social partners to engage actively. Without that active engagement from the European Commission, we feel the steady decline in activity and participation from the employers in social dialogue will only worsen.

We call on the responsibility of CEOs and employers in general to engage in social dialogue. Successful implementation of the Single European Sky directly depends on the adoption of a social and human dimension roadmap for the SES that can only be achieved with the full commitment of all parties.