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Air traffic controllers to strike Tuesday

The Local · 8 Aug 2011, 17:59

Published: 08 Aug 2011 17:59 GMT+02:00

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The GdF air traffic controllers’ union called early Monday on its 5,500 members to strike from 6 am to noon Tuesday. The union is locked in a pay dispute with the controllers’ employer, the government-owned company DFS, which is responsible for air traffic control in Germany.

The strike was approved by a labour court late on Monday afternoon, unlike an aborted strike planned for last week. However, the DFS could still attempt to halt the walkout with a last minute legal appeal or by agreeing to arbitration talks late on Monday.

The strike will affect thousands of flights, coming in the middle of holiday season. The GdF asked for the travelling public’s understanding that it saw no other course in the stalled pay dispute other than to strike.

The dispute revolves around pay and conditions for its 5,500 members. The GdF is demanding a 6.5 percent pay rise in a 12-month pay deal. The DFS is reportedly offering a longer-term agreement, consisting of a 3.2 percent rise from August 1, followed by a 2 percent rise or at least a rise keeping pace with inflation from November 1, 2012.

At the moment, controllers start at €90,000 ($128,000) per year.

Last week, an industrial court in Frankfurt forbade a strike by air traffic controllers, saying some of the union’s demands were unacceptable.

The DFS said it would take the new strike threat also before the court.

Story continues below…

Union members at the DFS training academy in Langen, Hesse and company’s office in Maastricht, the Netherlands, will both be exempted from the strike.

DAPD/The Local

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

07:26 August 8, 2011 by thomass66
Just use the "Reagan Solution" and for those who may have forgotten or just don't know, here is a link of the ultimatum that at the time President Ronald Reagan gave the FAA for trying the same thing, maybe Mutti can do the same thing here, not sure but think could be possible solution?

08:32 August 8, 2011 by William Thirteen
screw Reagan - look how the american middle class has been fleeced over the past thirty years. the court should have let the strike go ahead last week and we would have already been through this. i say this as someone who was supposed to fly last Thursday and decided to rebook for tomorrow! i won't cross any picket lines....
09:27 August 8, 2011 by frankiep
These guys START with a salary of €90,000 per year, are being offered a 3.2 percent pay raise this year, followed by annual pay raises at least in line with inflation and they STILL are complaining that it isn't enough. I can't fault them for trying to get all they can when they can, but that doesn't mean I have to have any sympathy whatsoever for them.

I do find it ironic though that if people working in a job with a entrance salary of €90 thousand were just regular individuals that they would most likely be demonized as being overprivileged swindlers who have too much money. Yet take those same circumstances and wrap it up in a cloak of union membership and all of a sudden they are underpaid and exploited workers struggling to be treated 'fairly'.

I can honestly see the need for unions, but it is cases like this that just give the rest of the unions a bad name.
09:50 August 8, 2011 by freechoice
boy i should quit my day job and be a traffic controller.
12:00 August 8, 2011 by 9900lawre
Now this is where ther investment in the military realy can come into it's own.

German Airforce and NATO ATC's could easily step up to the mark and plug the gap.

These goon's who think they can hold countries to ransom for a pay rise should be charged with subversion. They are after all responsible for deliberately damaging economies from the inside when they take up such action.

The government should cut the strings now and take action or forever be bullied by trend setters!
12:14 August 8, 2011 by taiwanluthiers
A security guard in Taiwan makes about 2.5 euros per hour on average. They have to work over 12 hours a day (sometimes 24), they get about 4 hours of sleep on average and most never get to see their children awake due to the amount of hours they have to work!

Yet no security guards in Taiwan ever goes on strike...

think about this when you decide to strike over small issues...
13:07 August 8, 2011 by Shirazz
Many company security guards in Thailand work 10-12 hour shifts for 8 Euros a day and never go on strike for lack of rest either .... because they sleep on the job.
13:24 August 8, 2011 by bobmarchiano
Last not forget that they only work 25 hours per week plus many holidays

The court has ordered them not to strike lets hope they have some teeth
14:09 August 8, 2011 by Talonx
Give them whatever they want. If they want naked pictures of Bea Arthur then get them naked pictures of Bea Arthur.
15:50 August 8, 2011 by alwaysmovin
First off I would like to clarify that air traffic controllers do work a 37 hour week and get amaximum of 40 days annual leave.....In reality this is between 32-37 days and is performance based on the amount of movements/complexity of the sectors you work in. In germany the minimum is 24 days but in general recieve 30 days leave and also get public holidays off which (in Bavaria) amount to 13 days in total so annual leave of 37-43 days if you are a shift worker or about 6 less if you work standard monday to Friday. It is a general provision that shiftworkers get more time off due to themental and physical effects shift work has on the human body.

Secondly this is not just an air traffic control strike, this is a strike by the 5000 members of the GDF who include engineers, assistants and other professions who are involved in Air Traffic services in Germany

As i have stated before there is more to this matter then is being reported

Unfortunately the focus of the press is on the salary but in reality our grievance is with the the companies inability to provide enough staff yet force us to work increasing amounts of traffic. In Munich center alone we are short 80 people (we are a staff of 400) but we are constantly asked to work overloaded sectors and incresing amounts of overtime. The union agreed to the overtime but with a stipulation that the staffing problem would be in some way resolved before the end of the current agreement......which has never happend...the fact that the current dispute has come to a head in the middle of the school holidays lies soley with the DFS not with the union as the DFS changed the dates for the negotiations

I understand that many see us as over paid but I believe we are paid what we deserve (and to be honest I cannot agree to work the extra overtime hours the company is requesting. After 5 days work (in summer espicially) I am mentally drained and do not have the capacity to safely do my work for an extra hour or two. I am already doing quite a lot of overtime 'to keep things ticking over' but am at the stage that I believe it it is in no-ones best interst that I do more.

I am not asking for pity but am asking for respect for the job that I do and the responsililty it entails......and also ask that people keep an open mind regarding what they read in the press. I do not want to disadvantage anyone but I also do not go to work with the feeling that I am too tired to make one of the hundreds of decisions I make every day which may have very serious consequences for you the flying public for whom I am ultimitely responsible...

Any any of you who want to apply to be an air traffic controller please go to www.dfs.de. There is a worldwide shortage and in Germany alone a shortage of 500 controllers ....so instead of bitching about how much we earn come and join us
16:42 August 8, 2011 by Talonx

I don't think many folks really understand how much stress sustained attention can leave a person with after hours of work.

I may not be able to get back to the states on the date I originally planned for my first visit in two years. But, I'm happy if it means that the air traffic controllers chances of better working conditions and earning better pay increases.
17:14 August 8, 2011 by alwaysmovin
Talonx....Thank you and I really hope you make it back ok
20:54 August 8, 2011 by catjones
alwaysmovin...perhaps you should find work that's better suited and less stressful. Maybe police, fire dept, emergency room, armed forces, et. al. Unfortunately, these stressed workers can't strike. Can you imagine the stress you'd be under if the pilots were homicidal, irrational, in trauma or out to kill you?
23:17 August 8, 2011 by 9900lawre
I'm feeling stressed about going to Afghanistan in 5 weeks time and having to work 14-18 hour days for 6 months. I do hope i don't feel too tired and fail in my duties to look after those who entrust in me.

I only ask for 2 weeks with my family in the middle somewhere and i won't moan if the dates shift left or right by a month or two. I won't ask any more than the £32,000 p/a which is fitting of my rank (no annual rise for the next 3 years). Not having Christmas off isn't a problem because when i come home i can my days off in leiu (maybe).

Tow the line ATC's and co'workers and know which side your bread is buttered. If my holiday flight this week from hannover is delayed then think of the type of people your letting down and ask is it really worth it for 3%?
23:18 August 8, 2011 by Dizz
@ alwaysmovin,

I have the greatest admiration for people in your profession. At business school they had us play a scaled down simulation of ATC at London Heathrow. I think the longest one of us went without messing up badly was two hours; for the most of us we didn't survive an hour.

However your plea here is intellectual veering to the emotional. You talk about how tough the job is, I agree. You say you are overworked and its is your individual (and your union's) sense of responsibility towards public safety that you do not in good conscience want to work longer hours still. I admire this. But your implication is that neither your employers the DFS nor whatever the international coordinating body is for civil aviation safety or even the American FAA (with regard to flights leaving from or heading to the US or US carriers) shares your and your union's concern for passenger safety at Germany's airports. Seems a bit odd, don't you think?

And there's something even odder. You write at length about the danger of fatigue, you do mention under-staffing but as I understand it you are striking for more pay. So for me something doesn't compute. Can you explain how more pay will make you less tired and better able to ensure our safety as paying passengers?? Because if you can you will win a lot of support. Its our lives that are being disrupted and our ticket prices that will rise to cover your pay.
01:30 August 9, 2011 by alwaysmovin
Comment: To all of you above. I did not vote to strike due to the money issue, I did it because I am not prepared to work overloaded sectors constantly and then forced to work extra days on days where previously the comapny said I had to rest.

We were promised by our company that the staffing problem would be addressed and the union agreed to in the last round of negotiation to work these extra hours until the company sorted out their mis management problems....WHICH THEY HAVE NOT. We are fighting to maintain our current conditions which is what I signed up for. The company is also proposing to make us work longer periods 'on board'. I am human not a machine. IF I make a mistake not only do I kill people but I go to Jail....what do you not understand here?????

In regard the pay issue the company is offering a percentage increase over a period which doesn't even match inflation but expects us to work a lot extra for that pay so in real terms doesn't even match out current conditions.I'm sure the other 3100 employees who are not controllers and do not make the money we do also have their issues....I cannot comment on that

In relation to someone saying I chose a different job, believe me after this summer it has crossed my mind many times. I like my job and I do it to the best of my ability but I was trained as an air traffic controller who works sectors to capacity.....The DFS has written down the MAX CAPACITY for each sector I work. This is described as the leavel of traffic which can safely fly through the airspace in a given period....... This is constantly being breached so therefore according to the DFS an unsafe number of aircraft areflting through those sectors. Air traffic is continually rising, the DFS is constantly implementing new sectors to enable more traffic to fly through our airspace but we don't have the staff to man these sectors so that sector doesn't get opened and the other sectors get swamped....Does that make sense to you??

In regard to the other professions mentioned...I have total respect for what they /you do but I cannot change their conditons or pay.

The Strike is called off and I hope this can be sorted out at no cost to the general public and that at least this publicity has at least encouraged young people to apply for the job who may not have even known it existed......and in doing so ease the problem which caused all this mess in the first place
06:23 August 9, 2011 by Shirazz
That's exactly what I meant when I said the plea should be expressed loud and clear, otherwise the media will pick and choose what they think the public would like to hear, and make that a headline, (e.g. strike for more money- instead of strike for safer work load) thus drawing people's criticism instead of compassion.

The strike leaders should keep that in mind.

I personally praise and thank all those responsible to make people's lives safer, no matter what profession you are in. Be well.
15:06 August 9, 2011 by Hitman
to alwaysmovin:

I always dreamed of becoming an ATC, unfortunately i didnt have the resources to study this in my home country.

Now, this week i've been reading the news about the strike and i wondered if i could still become one. After checking the webpage you suggetsted i found only 1 thing that does not match my profile. I am 25 y.o. and not 24 as the training academy requires you to be. my question then is, Can i become an Air Traffic Controller when im 25yo, Legal imigrant with a C1 German Level and have already finished a University Degree?

Thanks for your time spared to answer me, which i know is hard to get..
18:36 August 9, 2011 by alwaysmovin
Hitman, I honestly don't know how strict they are on the age limit but I would get in touch with them and let them know.

Another possibilty is Eurocontrol in Maastricht...They control the upper airspace over Germany, Holland Luxemburg and Belgium. They state you have to be 25 or under but there are restrictions on nationality etc

Here is the link for Eurocontrol


I believe Eurocontrol pay for you to go and do their selection tests too

Good luck and pm me if you have any other questions
18:46 August 9, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
Okay, THIS one is complete BS and affects me personally. Today I have family flying from and through Germany for my wedding, which is this saturday. Now, all of our Hotel plans and driving/picking up people logsitics is going down the tube. Now WE have to come up with a whole new solution regarding how to accomodate our families, a few days before our wedding, and it's because a bunch of overpaid tarts want to more money for their already grossly over-inflated salaries?! This is madness. All of these so-called "workers" need to be fired on the spot, and new employees who are willing to work hired at once. No developed nation can afford to tolerate this sort of `thing. We don't need unions - this is not the 1910's where children work in coal mines. Unions and union-like mentalities are obsolete, and affecting people negatively like this every day.
19:05 August 9, 2011 by alwaysmovin
The strike was cancelled last night...or can't you read........

23:34 August 9, 2011 by Talonx
@ alwaysmovin

Congratulations on the talks, now if only the media would actually report on the issues at hand regarding these talks.

Anyways, I'm also traveling to my wedding, but I think the lives of the thousands upon thousands of people flying is probably more important than even the most important day in my life. Keep up the good fight and the good work.
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