Some 200 employees from 11 European air navigation service providers are protesting outside the European Parliament over planned modernisation of air traffic management.
Today's protests, called by the European Transport Workers’ Federation, follow strikes last week by French air traffic controllers.
The ETF is objecting to a package of measures dubbed SES2+ (Single European Sky second phase). These were proposed by the European Commission in June, and in the ETF's view they amount to "dogmatic liberalisation of the ATM industry" with "little support from the Member States". Their implementation should be halted by Europe's parliament, argues the group.
"We oppose a SES based on market principles, top-down approach and cost reductions, which would jeopardise safety and the number and quality of jobs," says ETF political secretary François Ballestero. "By organising this demonstration, the ETF is signalling that the public-service role of the ATM industry in Europe should not be put at risk by unbundling support services – meteorology, communications, navigation, surveillance, training and aeronautical information services – which, in many countries, are part of the core business of the ANSPs [air navigation service providers]."
The ETF does not believe that a mandatory structural separation between supervisory and service provision is needed. "The real need is to achieve the already existing SES2 package, adopted in 2009, which requires some additional time," says Riccardo Rubini, chair of the ETF ATM committee. "We also reject a performance scheme dominated by unrealistic targets and forecasts – which destabilises the economic viability of a majority of the ANSPs – and by cost reduction, the main purpose of which is to cut jobs."
He adds that the ETF is "in favour of a SES that respects and creates jobs, improves the working conditions and maintains the collective agreements".
ETF affiliates from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Slovakia and the UK are participating in the Brussels demonstration.