BWU reports progress in air traffic control talks
Efforts are due to continue on Monday at 10 a.m. at the level of the Ministry of International Transport in a bid to resolve outstanding issues surrounding this week’s crippling strike by air traffic controllers.
This morning the workers’ bargaining agents – the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) and the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) – met at the Grantley Adams International Airport with management and other stakeholders, under the chairmanship of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of International Transport Irvin Best.
During that meeting, the unions were given a “status update” on the work being done to address the air conditioning system inside the control tower, a matter which had sparked Monday’s strike, which resulted in several flight delays.
“That report this morning was favourable. However, the work is to continue tonight and we will be monitoring that situation very closely to make sure that the conditions in the tower are rectified in the shortest possible time frame,” Dwaine Paul, the acting assistant general secretary of the BWU, told Barbados TODAY this morning following the 30-minute meeting.
Paul said based on the report from management, it was hoped that some of the outstanding issues would be settled early next week.
However, he said overall conditions at the air traffic control system remained a challenge, adding that the unions will be working with the Ministry and the management of the air traffic controllers to have those matters rectified.
“We will be pressing on to ensure that the issues that have been plaquing air traffic controllers for several years are resolved in the shortest possible time frame,” said Paul, explaining that apart from the environmental problems, the union intended to push for settlement of other issues, some dating back five years.
“One of the other major issues that have impacted this department is the issue of staffing, related solely to attrition. We have to deal with that issue immediately. The staff levels at air traffic control are at critical levels,” he said.
The senior BWU official said training was another bugbear, noting that some air traffic controllers had not been trained for over five years and it took at least three years for them
to be trained.
“So that situation is extremely urgent,” he told Barbados TODAY.
“We [also] have an issue of a significant amount of outstanding appointments of persons who are acting . . . some have been acting for more than 15 years.”
Paul said there were also concerns about posts, which should have been established.
“We really need to get the issue of staffing at the Tower rectified. We also have issues at the training school, which have to be addressed as well. Barbados was at the forefront of [training] in the region and now we are falling behind,” he lamented, while pointing out that the area was one where revenue could be generated.
Paul also said the structure housing the Tower, which was built in 1970, had been overlooked for years, while development work at the airport went on all around it. The BWU represents the majority of air traffic controllers.