IFATCA blows whistle on Chile

An international air traffic controller organisation is urging action in Chile where working conditions represent a ‘serious concern’.
IFATCA said it had been alerted to the situation by its member association the College of Air Traffic Controllers of Chile which has reported a severe deterioration in  conditions.
IFATCA, which represents over 50,000 air traffic controllers in more than 130 countries, said Chile had apparently stalled in its pursuit to improve its air traffic management system to ensure the provision of safe, secure and efficient air traffic services.
“It may even have reversed course,” it said.
“Refresher courses; vacation and necessary rest breaks are cut or denied by the authorities; a retirement system that does not ensure an adequate pension; and contractual inequality with different types of contracts in the same unit,” said IFATCA.
“Further, equipment is operated without the necessary maintenance and support; the training school has inadequate resources, and retired controllers are brought back on duty to meet shortages.”
“Even more damning, the authorities may have ignored a study documenting serious human factors effects, such as stress, on the staff. As a result, highly trained air traffic controllers have left these low wages and poor working conditions for employment in other area of the public and private sectors with better working conditions.”
Alexis Brathwaite, IFATCA president and chief executive said: “Our member associations around the world strive to work with their authorities to maintain mutually agreed working conditions appropriate to the profession. These are specifically defined to ensure the safety of air operations, with minimum and maximum working hours, limited overtime, legally regulated breaks and vacation periods that allow recovery and manages the risk of fatigue; provides job security, opportunities for career progression and the level of job satisfaction that ensures that professional services are provided at all times by highly motivated staff.”
“Compromised working conditions will compromise the ability of even the most highly committed professionals,” continued Brathwaite. “Given the growth being experienced by the aviation industry in Chile, the risks to safety are exacerbated if the situation is not improved immediately.”
IFATCA said it is calling on Chilean government authorities, to pay special attention to the regulations governing the work of its air traffic controllers and implement the appropriate improvements to achieve the necessary standards of aviation safety. “This and only this would fulfill the promise and hopes that sprung from 1999 when Chile sought to take its place among States providing an ATM system that rigorously meets international standards without compromise,” it said.

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