Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the ILO

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Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the ILO

22ND ANNUAL CONFERENCE, Split, Yugoslavia, 21-25 March 1983

WP No. 55

Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the ILO


The Committee Chairman’s report to IFATCA ’82 was referred to Committee C, where numerous major changes and amendments were suggested. Following discussion Committee C accepted the report as information material and referred Appendices A and B to the Ad Hoc Committee for further study.

1982-83 Work Programme

In early September 1982 the Chairman wrote all Committee members proposing a meeting in Europe during late October or early November, and at the same time requested corresponding members to submit material they wished to have considered at the meeting.

The chairman and the two members met in Geneva in early November and considered the amendments and suggestions arising from Committee C’s deliberations at IFATCA ’82.

No submissions were made by corresponding members for consideration at the Committee meeting.

At the Committee’s invitation, Mr. Avi Gill, Transport Specialist, Civil Aviation from the ILO attended the meeting and provided valuable assistance in their deliberations.

Objectives of the Ad Hoc Committee as Assigned by the Board of Officers

The objective assigned to the Ad Hoc Committee was to examine the conclusions of the ILO Meeting of Experts on Problems Concerning ATCOs in order to:

a) promote their adoption in form of an appropriate international instrument;

b) draft a basic format of a contract of employment for air traffic controllers;

c) suggest ways and means by which MAs could achieve a contract containing the provisions drafted in (b) above;

d) suggest ways and means by which MAs could achieve in their countries general conditions arising from the Committee of Experts conclusions which are not appropriate for inclusion in a contract of employment.


In reviewing input received by the Committee and in their discussions at the meeting a number of reasons for not pursuing enactment of the Meeting of Experts Conclusions as an ILO convention were raised which, in the Committee’s opinion, far outweigh the advantage of having such a Convention. They were:

a) The length of time it would take to achieve such a Convention and the high probability that the attempt would be unsuccessful. In the period when such an attempt was being made the high probability that countries would not take action on the conclusions, using the excuse that they were awaiting the production of a Convention.

b) The high probability that a Convention would not contain the requirement for such positive benefits as are contained in the Conclusions.

c) The fact that countries could avoid the necessity for compliance with the Convention by refusing to ratify it.

d) In their present informal status the Conclusions have been instrumental in achieving improvements for ATCO’s in some countries.

e) This statement, contained in a letter to the administration of one MA’s country from the Director General of the ILO, in response to a query concerning the status of the Conclusions, “Thus, insofar as the conclusions contain suggestions for further action by the parties concerned at the national level, they deserve to be given consideration, and can legitimately be used in negotiations at the national level. In such cases, the weight and significance to be attached to the conclusions – which may be considerable – derives from the moral and scientific authority of the participating experts.

The Committee reviewed Appendix B to the Chairman’s 1982 report and incorporated amendments suggested by Committee C, as well as further amendments arising from their own discussion. In view of comments made by Mr. Gill at IFATCA’82, and at the Geneva meeting, it was agreed to insert a preamble to Appendix B making it clear that the proposed Contract of Employment Items do not represent the conclusions of the Committee of experts but rather the Ad Hoc Committee’s interpretation of how those conclusions should be reflected as IFATCA policy.

The Committee reviewed Appendix A to the Chairman’s 1982 report and amended the title to read “General Conditions”. The Committee agreed and Mr. Gill concurred that with the exception of Item 10, this Appendix accurately reflected the Conclusions of the Committee of Experts, while Item 10 was an ILO Tripartite Technical Meeting recommendation.

The Committee then discussed ways and means by which MAs could achieve the conditions described in the Committee of Experts conclusions either as contracts of employment items or as general conditions. It was agreed that the Committee recommendations on this area would include non-Member Association countries as well.

As the final agenda item the future role of the Ad Hoc Committee was discussed. In the opinion of the Committee the objectives assigned by the Board of Officers will have been achieved if this report is adopted by the 1983 Conference.

It was felt, therefore, that unless further objectives are assigned to the Committee, any future activity in the area of the Conclusions of the Committee of Experts could well be handled by the Board of Officers or the applicable Regional Vice-Presidents.


That no further action be taken to have the Conclusions of the ILO Meeting of Experts on Problems Concerning Air Traffic Controllers enacted as a formal ILO Convention.

That Appendix A of this report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the ILO be accepted as IFATCA policy.

That Appendix B to the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the ILO be accepted as guidance material.

That the Conclusions of the Committee of Experts, along with copies of the IFATCA policy as adopted from Appendices A and B, with a covering letter highlighting the most important parts of the Conclusions be forwarded to the administration of each country where:

a) The MA of that country wishes to do so.

b) The MA of that country requests IFATCA to do so, that IFATCA forward the above material.

c) The country does not have a MA, and ATCOs in that country request IFATCA to do so, or where the Board of Officers believe it would be in the best interest of ATCOs in that country that IFATCA forward the above material.

That the covering letter described in paragraph 5.3 of WP 55 include the quotation from the Director General of the ILO referred to in paragraph 4.1(e) of WP 55.

That where the material described in paragraph 5.3 of WP 55 is forwarded to the administration of any country that it be suggested to that administration that they request the ILO to conduct a study in situ of working conditions for ATCOs in their employ, and make recommendations for improvement of them. Where such a request is made to the ILO, it should be suggested to the administration of the country, that because of ILO financial restrictions, they should indicate they are prepared to underwrite the necessary expenses of such a study.

That where MAs request , or where ATCOs from non IFATCA member countries request IFATCA to do so, the Board of Officers make representation or appearances before that country’s administration to support adoption of the ILO Conclusions and IFATCA policy in that country.

Appendix A to WP55/1983

General Conditions

  1. ATCOs right to establish and join organisations including unions of their own choosing and for those organisations to affiliate with international organisations.
  2. Those organisations should be free from interference from employers or governments.
  3. Through such organisations participate in the determination of their conditions of employment, and the conception, planning, and implementation of premises, technical equipment and procedures concerning the ATC system.
  4. The settlement of disputes should be through negotiation followed by mediation, consultation or arbitration whichever may be appropriate to national conditions.
  5. Research should be carried out in each country to determine the capacity of the ATC system and the workload to be carried by each ATCO.
  6. ATCOs should be provided with ATC equipment commensurate with their operational requirements so as to promote an optimum level of safety.
  7. Within each country where civil air traffic normally predominates or where civil airspace is clearly defined a civilian ATC system is preferable.
  8. Each country should carry out medical studies to determine medical standards for ATCOs, including the identification of the cause of stress among ATCOs, and investigate methods of prevention of such stress as well as diagnosing and treating its manifestations.
  9. ATCOs should be subject to medical examination, both prior to employment in the profession and on a regular basis during their career. Such examinations should be capable of detecting any medical deficiencies prior to or during ab-initio training and provide for a thorough monitoring of the ATCOs health throughout his career.
  10. ATCOs should be provided with adequate protection measures designed to prevent loss of licence on medical grounds. This protection should include the availability of the appropriate training facilities to assist the ATCOs concerned in maintaining the required health standards.
    (note: This item is a recommendation from the ILO Tripartite Technical Meeting for Civil Aviation, December 1977).
  1. The government of each country should pass legislation to abolish independent civil liability of ATCOs, and where this has not yet been done provide them with adequate legal counsel.
  2. Each country should establish adequate ATC manpower and career planning activities which should provide adequate trained staff to meet a staffing formula which takes into account operating hours, hours of work, all types of leave, and training requirements.
  3. ATCO candidates with no previous aviation experience should normally be recruited between 17 and 25 years of age and be at university entrance level.
  4. The training program of ATCOs should be in three phases before licensing, classroom instruction, ATC simulators and practical experience with an optional fourth phase involving flying training to private pilot standard.
  5. Licensed ATCOs should receive regular refresher training and familiarisation flights, as well as training on new equipment and procedures prior to their introduction.
  6. A system of regular proficiency checking should be established for ATCOs.
  7. ATC instructors should be carefully selected from among ATCOs engaged in actual ATC work, given pedagogical training, and the opportunity to keep their practical knowledge up to date. A specific instructor rating or qualification should be established.

Appendix B to WP55/1983

Contract of Employment Items


The following suggested contract of employment items are the minimum standards which IFATCA feels should be applied to conditions of employment mentioned in the Conclusions of the ILO Meeting of Experts on Problems Concerning ATCOs. These standards are written only to provide general guidelines for all areas of the world, and should be amended or deleted as appropriate to national conditions or practices.

1. Hours of Work

a.  …. hours, inclusive of a mandatory …. minute period in which the employee shall prepare himself to assume his duties prior to the commencement of each shift, shall constitute the work week for operating employees; except that when hours of work are scheduled on a rotating or irregular basis, employees will work …. hours per week averaged over a period of time not to exceed …. days.

b.  Time worked by an employee in excess of the hours prescribed in paragraph (a) shall be considered as overtime. The Employer will endeavour to keep overtime work to a minimum and shall assign overtime equitably.

c.  It is both appropriate and desirable that in the interests of the employees, shift cycles within which these hours are worked be standardised. Accordingly the shift cycle within which these hours are worked shall be …. days on, followed by …. days off.

d.  An employee’s days of rest shall be consecutive and not less than …..

e.  Shift schedules shall be posted at least …. calendar days in advance in order to provide an employee with reasonable notice as to the shift he will be covering. The shift as indicated in this schedule shall be the employee’s scheduled hours of work. If it is necessary to amend the posted schedule, the Employer will make every reasonable effort to contact the employee affected by the amendment to advise him of the change at the earliest possible opportunity.

f.  The Employer will not:

i.  schedule the commencement of a shift within …. hours of the completion of the employee’s previous shift;

ii.  schedule shifts of less than …. hours’ duration;

iii.  schedule split shifts;

g.  Except in an emergency, no operating employee shall work more than …. consecutive hours of more than …. consecutive days.

h.  Employees shall be provided during each shift with at least one meal break and …. rest periods.

2. Holidays and Vacations

a.  The following legal holidays shall be designated holidays for employees:


b.  When an employee is required to work on a holiday in accordance with paragraph (a) he shall be paid overtime rates for all hours worked on the holiday and/or be granted leave with pay at a later date in lieu of the holiday.

c.  When a day designated as a holiday in accordance with paragraph (a) falls on an employee’s normal day off he shall be granted financial compensation or leave with pay at a later date in lieu of the holiday.

d.  An employee shall earn vacation leave at the following rates:

i)  …. working days per year if he has completed less than …. years of employment.

ii)  …. working days per year if he has completed …. years of employment.

iii)  …. working days per year if he has completed …. years of employment.

(or the amount of leave entitlement could be based on age or salary)

e.  Subject to operational requirements the Employer shall make every reasonable effort to grant an employee his vacation leave during the year it is earned. Where in any year an employee has not been granted all of the vacation leave credited to him, the unused portion of his vacation leave shall be carried over into following year.

f.  Consistent with efficient operating requirements the Employer shall make every reasonable effort to schedule vacations in a manner acceptable to employees.

3. Remuneration

a.  As ATCOs and pilots carry equal responsibilities, controller salaries shall be set at a level which will cause the total compensation average for all controllers to equal the total compensation average received by the pilots employed by the national airline.

b.  Remuneration for overtime work shall be paid at …. times the rate for regular hours of work.

c.  Employees will receive a bonus of …. percent of their normal hourly rate for all hours worked between 1700 and 0800 local time.

d.  Employees will receive a bonus of …. percent of their normal hourly rate for all hours worked between 1700 Friday and 0800 Monday.

4. Retirement and Pensions

(Note: IFATCA early retirement policies were amended in 1994 by WP138)

a.  Employees are eligible for voluntary retirement at age 50 or after …. years of service, whichever is earlier.

b.  Employees who retire earlier than the normal retirement age for other occupations in their country shall receive pension benefits at not less than the same level as if they had retired at the normal retirement age for other occupations.

5. Employment Security

a. Where before he reaches the normal retirement age for ATCOs the employee is unable to maintain the necessary medical or proficiency standards to hold his ATC licence, the Employer shall,

i)  provide a retraining program for another career at no cost to the employee for up to a maximum of …. years during which he shall receive his normal ATCO salary and allowances.

ii)  following retraining provide the employee with employment in the field for which the training was conducted, and maintain his remuneration at the ATCO rate until he reaches the normal retirement age for ATCOs.

iii)  where the employee is unable to undergo such retraining, or incapable of employment in any occupation the Employer shall maintain his remuneration at ATCO level until he reaches the normal retirement age for ATCOs.

iv)  where the employee does not wish to undergo such retraining or take alternate employment with the Employer, he shall be allowed to leave the service and be entitled to a lump sum equal to five years of his ATCO salary as a loss of licence benefit.

Last Update: September 20, 2020  

November 28, 2019   512   Jean-Francois Lepage    1983    

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