Media Release - Christmas Industrial Action Ruled Out

Australian air traffic controllers are today working out of contract after their three-year certified agreement expired yesterday, without a fresh agreement in place despite months of negotiations.

However, meetings of air traffic controllers in all states have today decided not to exercise their right to notify a bargaining period in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. Air traffic controllers will continue to work significant amounts of overtime over the Christmas-New Year period as a result of staff shortages.

A meeting between Civil Air and Airservices Australia negotiators is scheduled for tomorrow in Melbourne.

Civil Air Executive Secretary Peter McGuane says the employer Airservices Australia has failed again, but the travelling public has suffered enough in 2008.

"The high incidence of uncontrolled airspace in 2008 has reduced Australian skies to third-world standards.

"Major airlines refuse to fly through uncontrolled air space, either delaying flights or wasting time and fuel to fly around affected sectors.

"At times this has caused chaos, with major centres like Sydney and Melbourne closed for hours because there are no air traffic controllers available to work.

"Airservices has failed to recruit enough new staff to replace those retiring or being lured overseas by lucrative contracts, and could not even provide adequate training facilities for those it did recruit.

"Airservices makes a profit of more than $100 million, but internal reorganisations and staff shortages mean it simply cannot cover the rosters to keep Australian skies safely monitored.

"While air traffic controllers are frustrated that their employer could not complete negotiations by a date set three years ago, they don't want to cause any stress for passengers over the Christmas-New Year holiday period."