The FTUC welcomes the Employment Relations Tribunal’s ruling on Saturday 20th January, 2018, ordering the ATS Management to allow workers back to work with pay for the period they have been denied work. This resolves the immediate issue of workers being denied work and unfair conditions being imposed by the Chair of the Board of ATS on workers if they were to return to work.
The impasse between the Management and FASA lasted thirty-five (35) days where Management hired scabs and airlines had to bring in their own engineers to certify aircrafts. Security Officers were used to clean aircrafts and handle local baggage while mechanics were used to service the aircrafts. All this happened without any inspections or supervision to ensure compliance by CAAFI which is the body responsible for the safety and security of all operations.
No doubt, ATS incurred massive additional cost and loss to its reputation. This includes paying workers who were denied work for thirty-five (35) days and paying workers that worked triple time rates. The Tribunal ruling is very straight forward. Management did not follow proper procedures as stipulated in the Collective Agreement and had no right to “suspend” workers without pay. This was very obvious from day one and Management in Mediation was reminded by the Union of this breach. However, Management as always decided that it would not be moved and the Collective Agreement did not matter. This is the very attitude that gave rise to the many grievances that workers have, some over a very long period. The big question is, who is going to take responsibility for the losses that have incurred because of mismanagement. FTUC would like to see some accountability for this fiasco. The country had been told that the Chairman had made the decision to force workers to sign an admission of fault before being allowed back to work. The Chief Executive Officer parroted those demands. It must be remembered that every dollar that is lost through mismanagement, forty-nine cents belong to workers. It is time for those that were responsible for this mess to own up and do the honorable thing.
The FTUC demands the resignation of the Chair of the Board and the Chief Executive Officer of ATS. They cannot be allowed to continue in office after being proven to be incompetent. Workers in ATS in the past have been terminated for minor mishaps costing the company little or nothing. We say the same rules apply.
It is absurd that this same management is attempting to continue to justify its actions by stating that disciplinary actions can still be taken on employees. This is nothing but a face saving strategy and one that any good Human Resources Manager would advise against. Now is the time to heal and get the ATS house in order and this management is not capable of doing that while licking its wounds. A fresh start is needed. The many pending grievances of workers need a resolution. FTUC calls upon Government to now wake up and do the right thing. Above all, respect workers’ and shareholders’ rights in the company.
The FTUC also demands answers from CAAFI as to why they allowed the regulations to be violated freely and a blanket dispensation given to ATS during this saga. Is this to say that it is now alright for the operations at the airport to continue as they have for thirty-five (35) days and the regulations continue to be ignored and those that are responsible for the compliance of those regulations are absolved from any accountability?
It has also been a shameful act where airlines boasted of safety and security being the foremost concern, so willingly compromised every rule in the book just to keep operations normal. It has become clear that at the end of the day, only profits matter.
The FTUC calls for a full investigation by an independent investigator into ATS and the airport operations for the period in question and hold those in authority accountable for their lapses. This Government parrots accountability, honesty and justice but this may be the opportunity for it to showcase what it preaches.