Turbulence on horizon as air traffic controllers dissatisfied

Air traffic controllers may strike if the powers that be do not listen to their cries in relation to a number issues, including retroactive payments from last year, and work with them to iron these out.

A source from the Guyana Association of Air Traffic Control Officers (GAATCO) yesterday told Stabroek News that while a strike is not “definite” it is being contemplated and they have since signalled their intentions to their union, the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU).

The source said that their plans come on the heels of the abrupt discontinuation of meetings which were held with the Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon and the management of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority.

The meetings became a reality after some of the air traffic controllers had sought a meeting with President Bharrat Jagdeo.

The call for the meeting was made as they felt that management was not looking after their welfare.

Stabroek News was told that workers are still owed retroactive overtime payment  and even though the government had announced the 5 percent across-the-board increase it has not been passed on to the workers. The source yesterday said that the increase announced by the government last December is also now being looked at as the workers are also entitled to that hike.

Back in March  last year a number of air traffic controllers took strike action after Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn blocked $18M in back pay for the staff, saying that neither he nor Finance Minister Ashni Singh was aware of the intended payout and had not approved it.

Staff were reportedly told in a memo that their payments had already been prepared, but following a visit to the office by Benn they were subsequently informed that their monies would be withheld.

Following much discussion, the staff had trickled back to work and some remedy sought in the situation. Sources said that any industrial action will be as a result of the current dissatisfaction stemming from the promises not being fully honoured.

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