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Airservices reaches deal with air traffic controllers’ union

written by Jake Nelson | June 20, 2024

SMC Controllers sitting at the Surface Movement Control West and East stations in Sydney Tower. (Image: Paul Sadler/Airservices Australia)

Airservices Australia says it has reached an in-principle enterprise agreement with air traffic controllers after more than six months of negotiations.

The three-year agreement would give ATCs an 11.2 per cent pay rise as well as “significant improvements” to current conditions including allowances, and will be sent to staff for a ballot between 28 June and 3 July.

According to Airservices Australia’s acting CEO, Peter Curran, the deal was reached after “extensive good-faith negotiations” with union Civil Air, which represents most ATCs and supports air traffic services employees, as well as individual bargaining representatives.

“We’ve been at the bargaining table since November to achieve an outcome that is fair and reasonable for the employees who manage our airspace,” he said.

“The new agreement enables us to continue providing a vital service to our economy, our stakeholders and the travelling public.”

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Air traffic controllers had threatened industrial action earlier this year, filing a protected action ballot with the Fair Work Commission in April.

Civil Air’s Peter McGuane told The Australian in March that a “deadlock” in enterprise negotiations had yet to be broken despite 14 meetings with management since November.

“Airservices was clearly warned on multiple occasions about the white-hot anger and despair that exists among employees due to the torrid workplace environment, and the appetite to pursue further action if claims were not met … they chose to ignore these warnings,” he said.

Airservices hit back against the claims by Civil Air, saying the real reason for the industrial action was a pursuit of a 20 per cent pay rise. A spokesperson said at the time that the union’s demands would cost an extra $140 million.

“As an industry-funded organisation, Airservices needs to balance any request to increase our operating costs with its potential impact on the industry and the travelling public,” the spokesperson said.

“The range of potential actions on which Civil Air members will be asked to vote includes work stoppages of up to 24 hours which could disrupt the travel plans of tens of thousands of Australians and international visitors.”

The in-principle agreement has now headed off the possibility of any such industrial action.

Civil Air has been contacted for comment.

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