Jamaica air traffic controllers promise more industrial action

Kathy Barrett

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Monday June 24, 2013 – Air traffic controllers at the two international airports in Jamaica have vowed to take protest action again this week despite a back to work order obtained by the Ministry of Labour on Sunday.

The court issued injunction had mandated that members of Jamaica Air Traffic Controllers Association (JATCA) return to work immediately and cease all forms of industrial action. It has also restrained the JATCA’s executive from instigating, causing, encouraging or continuing any industrial action for 28 days.

But JATCA president, Kurt Solomon, said the protest plans have not been shelved and the details will be disclosed at a news conference scheduled for Monday.

“We had a plan to begin our protest on Monday, June 24, and we will effect that plan. We are going to start off by having a with a press conference to outline the specifics with regards to why we are taking the action that we are taking and how it will impact travel over the next few days.

“Further to that, we anticipate that there will be some communication between ourselves and Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA), our employers, in relation to specific problems that existed over the years that we wish addressed,” he added.

The JATCA said the Portia Simpson-Miller government may have been premature in obtaining the injunction against its members and that it will do little to settle the dispute between the group and the JCCA.

“Especially given the fact that for the last three weeks we have demanded that the dialogue continue, but continue along a certain vein,” he said.

Solomon said the JTAC had been calling for all stakeholders to meet “in the same room to eliminate the different information that we have been getting from different sources that are relevant to our negotiation. That’s all we asked for and for three weeks we heard absolutely nothing”>

The JCAA said air traffic controllers who were scheduled for duty on Sunday night showed up for work. 

“For the 11:00 pm (local time) shift the staff called in to say that they would be reporting and they have reported. Service appears now to be back to normal,” said JCAA’s Director General, Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Darby.

The workers last weekend reported sick for work forcing a contingency team to take control of critical operations. The industrial action followed a breakdown in talks between JATCA and the JCCA over long-standing wage and benefits issues. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)