Air traffic controllers issue strike notice to BAS/Serco

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Air traffic controllers have put their employers on strike notice after losing patience over two years of stalled pay talks.

However there is little likelihood of an airport shut down if the Bermuda Public Service Union and BAS/Serco fail to agree because Government has said it will order binding arbitration.


Air traffic controllers have put their employers on strike notice after losing patience over two years of stalled pay talks.

However there is little likelihood of an airport shut down if the Bermuda Public Service Union and BAS/Serco fail to agree because Government has said it will order binding arbitration.

The Royal Gazette understands the five air traffic controllers are far apart from the company on agreeing a new pay deal and so put in a 21-day strike notice on Tuesday. BAS/Serco contracts manager Richard Savard confirmed the company had been warned of industrial action but he said there was an excellent relationship with the union. He said: "We are going to continue to work in co-operation and hopefully resolve the existing differences."

Airport General Manager James Howes, whose department had contracted out air traffic control to BAS/Serco, said he was aware of its industrial problems. The company has also been at loggerheads with the Bermuda Industrial Union for years over union recognition for airport firefighters.

Mr. Howes said the BIU dispute was before the courts. However he said of BAS/Serco: "I think they have good labour relations and good human resources policies.

"Naturally we are following the air traffic control situation closely because we are directly involved. We are very much cognisant of the need for a continuation of the service.

"I am confident all this will be sorted out and there will be no interruption of air traffic service."

He said if strike action went ahead plans would be enacted to make sure the island wasn't cut off. And one airport source said it would be possible to run the airport without air traffic controllers as is done routinely at some US terminals when towers are shut down for the night.

The source said pilots are guided by terminals at nearby airports. Acting Labour Minister Senator David Burch said he was aware of the air traffic controller's strike notice.

He said: "I would say this is a routine negotiating tactic. Both sides are talking still. I am not unduly concerned.

"It is considered an essential service and if the need arises I would have little hesitation in ordering it to mandatory arbitration."


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