The ILO Meeting of Experts on Problems Concerning Air Traffic Controllers

  • Home 1980 The ILO Meeting of Experts on ....

The ILO Meeting of Experts on Problems Concerning Air Traffic Controllers

19TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE, Toronto, Canada, 05-09 May 1980

WP No. 53

The ILO Meeting of Experts on Problems Concerning Air Traffic Controller


For a number of years IFATCA had been striving to achieve a satisfactory working environment and recognition of the controller’s professional status nationally as well as internationally. The Federation’s efforts, despite the encountered obstacles, have finally arrived before the International Labour Office forum, where the problems facing the controller internationally were discussed and conclusions for the solution of these problems were eventually reached.

The Meeting was held at the ILO’s Headquarters on the 8 – 16 May, 1979, Geneva, comprising 30 experts, 15 of which came from governments of an equal number of states and the remaining 15 came from workers’ organisations or unions. IFATCA, as observer, was represented by the V P Professional, A. Avgoustis, Chairman SC4, E. Just and the ILO Liaison, J.DD. Monin. IFATCA’s President, H. Henschler, for obvious reasons came to the Meeting as expert for his Workers Group (CATCA). A number of members of IFATCA were present at the Meeting were assigned advisory duties to either government or workers’ experts.

The Meeting deliberated through for 8 full days, allowing the first four days discussing the working document prepared by the ILO which in effect created the background to the controllers’ existing problems and devoting the final four days, after the problems have been surfaced, on formulating acceptable, to both sides, conclusions which may be used as guiding principles for the future solution of controllers’ problems. IFATCA’s preparatory work – “The Controller’s Concern” and the 1979 Brussels Conference resolutions on controllers’ problems and their solution – and contacts throughout the Meeting with experts from both sides, paved the way towards the satisfactory conclusions reached by the experts.

Editor’s Note: The complete report of the ILO Meeting of Experts on Problems Concerning Air Traffic Controller is available here.


As stated above, the experts deliberated on the first four days to discover which were in fact the problems facing the air traffic controllers. The experts worked on a document prepared by the ILO after information reached the Office following a questionnaire circulated worldwide and dealing with the following topics:

a) Industrial relations;

b) Social and Labour Aspects of the ATC System;

c) Manpower and Career Planning;

d) Training and Retraining;

e) Hours of Work;

f) Remuneration;

g) Age of Retirement and Pension;

h) Employment Security;

i) Occupational Safety, Health and Welfare; and

j) The Legal Liabilities of the Controller.

The Representative of the Director-General of the ILO, Mr. J. Reynaud opened the proceedings and the Meeting proceeded then to elect Mr, P.V. Lawson, Director of Employees Relations, Canada, as the Chairman of the Meeting. It must me noted here that Mr. Lawson’s expert handling of the Meeting made the conclusions reached possible. Considerable discussion ensued on the various topics covered in the ILO’s preparatory document, some of which were lengthy and raised considerable arguments by both sides.


Following the ensued discussions on the existing problems of the controller, the Meeting of Experts ended the eight-day marathon deliberations with 52, agreed by both sides, conclusions. The scope of these conclusions may however for the time being, be considered as material legally binding.

Though it my be suggested that some of the conclusions reached by the Meeting are being entertained by some employers in some countries, it must be appreciated that the greatest majority of controllers in most parts of the world do not even enjoy the most fundamental principles covered by these conclusions. Because of the fact that the conclusions as well as the endued discussions on the Controllers problems at the ILO Meeting of Experts have been widely published and details distributed to all concerned, this Working Paper will not deal with the matter further. However, full details may be made available at the Conference.


Bearing in mind the effect of the conclusions upon the employers and bearing in mind the importance of these conclusions upon the profession of the controller, it is recommended to Conference:

a) That the Executive Board follow up progress of the ILO conclusions in relation to employee/employer relation;

b) That MA’s make use of the ILO conclusions in their contract negotiations with their employers, where these may be suitable;

c) That the Executive Board use any lawful means to achieve, through the ILO, an international instrument, based on the above conclusions or improved ones, by which aviation authorities would be encouraged to become signatories.


For further reference and study the following are available:

a) The following three reports by the ILO:

(i)  Conditions of Employment and Service of Air Traffic Controllers.

(ii)  Social and Labour Problems in Civil Aviation.

(iii)  Tripartite Technical Meeting for Civil Aviation.

b) THE CONTROLLER issues 2/79 and 3/79

c) Working Document prepared by the ILO for the Meeting of Experts; and

d) Document by the ILO on the Report and Conclusions of the Meeting of Experts; and


Last Update: February 21, 2021  

November 23, 2019   472   Jean-Francois Lepage    1980    

Comments are closed.

  • Search Knowledgebase