Air traffic controllers ordered back to work

KINGSTON — The Supreme Court yesterday granted an injunction to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security putting an end to a near two-day strike by disgruntled air traffic controllers, which forced the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority to call out its contingency response team.

The injunction came late yesterday afternoon, hours after controllers assigned to the Kingston Air Traffic Control Centre and the Norman Manley and Sangster international airports began calling in sick or “unable to report for duties” — a pattern which began with the 7 a.m. shift on Saturday.

The Jamaica Air Traffic Controllers Association said its members were protesting against the “inequity created and the severe stress which has arisen from the imposition of the Heads of Agreement (2013) for public sector workers” on them.

“After hearing an application filed by the minister of labour and social security [yesterday], the Supreme Court granted orders against all the members of the Jamaica Air Traffic Controllers Association and its executive members. The court granted orders restraining the Respondents and all members of the Association from commencing or continuing any industrial action in the form of withdrawing their services or otherwise,” the JCAA said in a press release.

When the Jamaica Observer visited the Norman Manley International Airport yesterday, things appeared normal. Passengers were seen filing up the checking counters in the departure area with ease, while at the arrival area there were no obvious hold-ups.

According to airport officials, only one Jet Blue flight was delayed in the morning.

The JCAA said that its Contingency Team had operated all shifts at all locations until 9:20 p.m. on Saturday, following which it implemented a “restriction to check the flow of air traffic”.

The facilities were closed from 9 p.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. yesterday and several “notices to airmen” were issued, advising of contingency routing procedures.

“Several of the routings were outside of the Kingston FIR (flight information region) with one routing through Haiti,” the JCAA said. (Observer)

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