IFATCA’s Role in the Area of Professional and Industrial Issues

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IFATCA’s Role in the Area of Professional and Industrial Issues

37TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE, Toulouse, France, 30 March – 3 April 1998

WP No. 50

IFATCA’s Role in the Area of Professional and Industrial Issues


This item was added to the SC6 work programme at the request of the President and the Executive Board following discussions and correspondence over the previous year between IFATCA and some MA’s who wanted to clarify what was the role of IFATCA and what was the role of the Trades Union related bodies in the international arena.

SC6 spent more time considering this subject than any other work item during the year. Eventually the members of SC6 realised that the national interpretation of the role of the individual Member Association relative to the Trade Union or negotiating body was as significant as the role of IFATCA as a whole.


The first matter to decide was what the members of SC6 believed to be the difference between ‘professional’ and ‘industrial’ issues. The conclusion was that the items which may be categorised as ‘professional’ or ‘industrial’ issues are not themselves essentially different, however it is the approach to them and the implementation of them that may be different. SC6 is of the opinion that it is appropriate for IFATCA to develop policy on any subject that is related to the provision of the air traffic services. The Manual supports this view within the Convention (page 1101)

“… that Air Traffic Controllers of all nations be united (…) for the protection of their common professional interests …”


and that

“ the parties hereto bind themselves to co-operate with each other in all matters affecting their common professional interest.”

To put this into practice IFATCA has as amongst its objectives “to protect and safeguard the interests of the ATC profession” (page 1212), and states that “In order to follow these aims and objects, (it) will sponsor and support the passage of legislation and regulations which will increase and protect the safety of air navigation through the improvement of working conditions in ATC.” (page 1213).

IFATCA’s role is to develop and promote policy on all matters related to the profession but it has no regulatory or negotiating powers to achieve implementation of these policies. SC6 is strongly of the opinion that this situation should not be changed.

The consequences of this role for IFATCA are that:

  • at national level, it is the responsibility of the individual Member Associations to seek the implementation of IFATCA policies within their own areas of representation either on their own behalf or by ensuring that those policies are communicated to any bodies that do hold negotiating rights.
  • at international level, IFATCA must promote its policies strenuously either on its own behalf or, when negotiation is required in order to achieve implementation, by coordinating with bodies holding negotiating rights. To achieve this it is important that IFATCA develops and maintains contacts with any such organisations.

During its discussions SC6 recognised that there are Member Associations who may need to request assistance from IFATCA on an individual basis for the resolution of disputes. The scale of such assistance should continue to be determined by the Executive Board in accordance with the Manual page 2 10 5 1, ‘IFATCA will remain available to act as an intermediary at the international level and, on the invitation from the Member Association, at national level’.


  1. IFATCA has the right to develop policy on all matters associated with the provision of air traffic services.
  2. The terms ‘industrial’ and ‘professional’ refer to the approach to and implementation of such policies rather than the matters themselves.
  3. IFATCA recognises the existence of other organisations that have a role to play in representing the legitimate interests of air traffic controllers.
  4. In countries where the Member Association does not hold negotiating rights it should be encouraged to communicate IFATCA policies to the Trade Union or negotiating body and so far as practicable, to co-ordinate their implementation.
  5. At the international level IFATCA should seek a common or co-ordinated approach with any other bodies representing air traffic controllers.
  6. IFATCA should continue to act as an intermediary when so invited by Member Associations involved in disputes, either at international or national level and the Executive Board should be allowed to continue to exercise its discretion as to the appropriate scale of IFATCA involvement in any particular case.


That Conclusions 1 to 6 be adopted as IFATCA Policy and inserted on Page 4111 of the IFATCA Manual as a new section 1.1 under the title IFATCA’s ROLE IN THE AREA OF PROFESSIONAL AND INDUSTRIAL ISSUES.

Last Update: September 28, 2020  

December 21, 2019   683   Jean-Francois Lepage    1998    

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