Report of the Liaison Officer to Int’l Organisations – Geneva

  • Home 1989 Report of the Liaison Officer ....

Report of the Liaison Officer to Int’l Organisations – Geneva

28TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE, Frankfurt/Main, Germany, 8-11 May 1989

WP No. 101

Report of the Liaison Officer to Int’l Organisations – Geneva


Four meetings were organised for the IFATCA Executive Board (E.B.) at the International Labour Office (ILO) during this past year. In March with EVPP Wim Rooseman, in April with President Erick Sermijn, EVPP and G. Gernaey, President of the Belgian Guild of ATCOs, in September with EVPP and in January 1989 with President Sermijn again. The ILO representatives met were from the following branches or departments: Industrial Activities, Technical Co-operation, American Regional Desk, Freedom of Association and Application of Standards. Close contacts were maintained throughout the year between the ILO Transport Specialist, Mr. A. Gil, and the liaison officer.

These activities were the subject of 4 progress reports to the E.B. Next meeting at the ILO take place during the first half of April (not confirmed yet).


ILO surveys on conditions of work

A number of MA’s required the ILO to conduct surveys on their conditions of work: Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Spain, Philippines, Guyana, Senegal and Morocco. Until today, after having already conducted 3 surveys in Peru, Costa Rica and Panama, the ILO received 3 further official requests from:

Philippines: request approved the government. ILO waiting for the airline ticket.

Guatemala: request approved by the government.

The ILO expert, Mr. A. Gil, left Geneva on the 22nd of February 89 for Guatemala. On his way he will stop in Costa Rica (IFATCA NCA Regional Meeting) and Honduras (first contacts for a possible ILO survey).

Spain: Not yet officially confirmed at the time of printing, the Spanish government has approved an ILO survey, more on this at Frankfurt.

Through an indirect source, we learnt that the conclusions of the ILO 1987 survey on conditions of work in Costa Rica were implemented to solve an ATC strike.

Greece: Since 1985, the Greek controllers have been under civil mobilisation, again. This despite the fact that, in 1982 already, the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association condemned in its 214th session the use of civil mobilisation as not being the way to solve social conflicts. In July 85, the Greek controllers appealed to the Greek High Court against their mobilisation. In November 87, the High Court ruled:

  • That the mobilisation was enforced by the government only for the periods of planned strike.
  • That the controllers appealed, there was no strike and therefore no mobilisation ensued.
  • That this appeal, directed against acts and decisions not valid at the time of its submission, was not receivable.

In July 88, the Greek controllers explained their case at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. This is all the information we received on the Greek problem. The ILO was kept informed throughout the year of these developments. So far, the Greek ATCA did not request formal action to be undertaken at the ILO.

Belgium: Since the 28th of January 1988, the Belgian ATCO’s have been requisitioned by their Minister of Communications. While actively fighting this unacceptable situation on the national level (legal actions and consultations), the Belgian Guild, together with an IFATCA delegation, met the ILO on the 3rd of March 88 with a comprehensive dossier on their case. On that basis, the Freedom of Association Branch of the ILO declared that a complaint against the Belgian government was receivable for the following reasons:

  • Mobilisation enforced to break the strike.
  • Basic industrial rights frozen.
  • No alternative mechanism set up for immediate negotiation.
    (ILO Conventions No, 87 and 98)

The possible reference to ILO Conventions on forced labour (No. 29 and 105) was also evoked. Finally, the Articles 24 (representation on non-observance of Conventions) and 26 (complaints on non- observance) of the ILO Constitution might also be used in front of the ILO General Tripartite Conference. In May 88, the Belgian Guild decided, following a change of government, to suspend their representation to the ILO in the hope the new Minister of Communications would rapidly withdraw the requisition measure. Unfortunately until today, the situation has not changed, The Guild is at present negotiating with the Union a common complaint to the ILO.

ATC Scholarships

The study on provision of ATC scholarships has been on the work programme of SC4 since (at least) 1983 (Rec. C.27 – Split 1983). Over the years, SC4 focussed on Tanzania as a test case, with the hope that the ILO could act as an intermediate in a Multi-bilateral assistance project. In 1986, SC4 had the opportunity to present for the first time a draft on this subject to the ILO. By mid 88, after much work on this project, SC4 6th draft was studied and considered good by the ILO. It only needed rephrasing, the ILO programming guidelines for multi-bilateral projects having been changed in the meantime. The final draft has now been sent to the ILO for consideration.

ILO Meeting of Experts on Civil Aviation

The venue for this Meeting is confirmed for October 1990.

ICAO/ILO project

The situation of Civil Aviation in some countries of Eastern Africa is worrying ICAO as well as IATA. Passing through Nairobi last Xmas, Mr. Gil suggested to the ICAO representative a joint ICAO/ILO study on working conditions and structures of the Civil Aviation Departments of 5 East African countries. This information is confidential for the time being. It is hoped to have more information at the Conference.


The ILO should be thanked for their assistance, and particularly for their continued efforts in conducting surveys on conditions of work of ATCO’s.

IFATCA should imperatively attend the ILO Meeting of Experts on Civil Aviation in view of the problems facing ATC and Civil Aviation as a whole.

The requisition or civil mobilisation of ATCO’s in two European countries is preoccupying. Although the International Labour Organisation condemns them, it appears that the unanimity of the Unions cannot be achieved to defend the freedom of association in our profession, and that governments can apply those measures without grave and immediate sanctions. A quid pro quo exists between essential service and minimum service to be rendered in case of industrial action. The latter was clearly defined as restricted to the operations necessary to avoid endangering the life or safety of air passengers and flight crews.

  • It is the role of IFATCA to denounce the misunderstanding between the terms “essential service” and “minimum service”.
  • Furthermore, to declare openly that minimum service, in case of industrial action, will be rendered because it belongs to the ethics of the profession.
  • Finally, to condemn the use and abuse of civil mobilisation before it becomes a common tool to shut the controllers up.


“IFATCA strongly condemns the actions of governments in resorting to the use of civil mobilisation or requisition measures for the purpose or preventing or ending national disputes.

Only negotiation or arbitration procedures shall be used to prevent or end disputes.”

Last Update: September 20, 2020  

December 2, 2019   521   Jean-Francois Lepage    1989    

Comments are closed.

  • Search Knowledgebase