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ILO recommendations

Extracts from ILO's recommendations and conclusions


Industrial relations

5. ATCOs should participate, through their trade union and/ or other such representative organisations, in the determination of their conditions of employment and service. Furthermore, ATCOs should be consulted in the conception, planning and implementation of technical provisions concerning ATC system, for example, through the establishment of joint committee of ATC organisation and ATC authorities. The extent of this participation and consultation should be determined by the national law and practice but in all cases, they should take place in the early stage of decision making process where feasible.

7. Industrial disputes in ATC are due to a variety of causes. In particular there appears to be a correlation between their occurrence and inadequate professional recognition, quality of ATC equipment, a lack of capacity of ATC system to cope with peak demand of Air Traffic as well as concern with wages and working condition. This correlation appears to be more evident in situation where adequate dispute settlement machinery does not exist.

8. The settlement of disputes should be sought as may be appropriate to national conditions, through negotiations between the parties or through independent and impartial machinery such as mediation, conciliation and arbitration, established in such a manner as to ensure the confidence of the parties involved. Where ATCOs are employed by the government, their civil servant status should not preclude them from having access to the following procedures; In particular, the settlement of disputes arising in connection with the determination of terms and conditions of employment should be sought through negotiations between the parties or through independent and impartial machinery such as mediation conciliation and voluntary arbitration with a view to making it unnecessary for the organisations representing ATCOs to have recourse to industrial action.

Social & labour aspect of the ATC system

14. ATCOs should be provided with ATC equipment commensurate with the operational requirements so as to promote an optimum level of safety. ATCOs, through their trade unions and/or other such representative organisations, should also be consulted in early stages on the design of new ATC premises and the type of new ATC equipment.

17. After considerable debate on different type of ATC administration, it is recognised that, regardless of the type of structure which exist, the system should in all cases ensure sound industrial relations and proper functioning of ATC services.

Hours of work

18 ATCOs are directly involved in the safety of civil aviation and have problems, which are unique to their profession, and their concern with safety could broadly be compared with that of pilots.

19 Hours of work, length of shifts, duration of uninterrupted work at air traffic control positions and other parameters of work schedules have a direct impact on air safety. It is therefor necessary to established guideline for work schedules to reduce fatigue of Air Traffic Controllers.

20 Long working hours and inadequate rest periods for ATCOs are potential threats to safety of aviation. However, it is very difficult to establish uniform standard for all countries, ATC system, levels of traffic density and hours of the day. There are no internationally accepted medical criteria in relation to fatigue and working hours, but socio-domestic factors, which are important, must also be taken in to account.

21 Maximum working hours per day, per week and per month with minimum rest periods should be lay down for ATCOs by the Governments of all states in consultation with the trade unions and other representative organisations concerned. These should preferably be enforceable by law. For the reason indicated in the preceding paragraphs, the maximum hours of attendance at the place of work per week by ATCOs should normally be less than the generally accepted number of attendance per week completed by other workers in civil aviation in the state concerned.

23. Timetables should be devised in consultation with staff organisations in such a manner that sufficient time is allotted to relieve fatigue, and should allow for short rest periods. The prevalent practice in some countries to provide controllers with 30- minutes breaks after 2 hours' duty. Agreement should be reached between ATCOs trade unions and/ or others such representative organisations and local management as to which positions the entitlement and frequency of rest periods should apply.


27. Because of the uniqueness of the air traffic control profession, it does not readily lend itself to comparison with other professions. However, to ensure that ATCOs' remuneration is commensurate with their responsibility, it should be noted that one of the professions in which the responsibilities assumed closely resemble that of the ATCO is that of the professional pilot. In fact, in at least one country, the controller's remuneration has been compared and linked to that airline captain. In many countries, ATCOs are compared with to other public servants for remuneration purposes due to their employment status, which has led to considerable dissatisfaction among ATCOs. In all cases, that trade unions and/ or the appropriate organisation concerned should be consulted on the proposed remuneration resulting from these comparisons.

28. In the interest of air safety, when determining remuneration structure and levels, ATC authorities should take into consideration the impact of remuneration on staffing levels and turnover. The relevant principles, which are embodied in the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111), should be recognised as applicable to ATCOs.

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