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Court orders end to air traffic controllers strike

Published: Sunday June 23, 2013 | 4:20 pm Comments 0

The Ministry of Labour has successfully applied for an injunction to end a strike by the island's air traffic controllers.

The court granted the injunction this afternoon, permanent secretary in the labour ministry Alvin McIntosh told The Gleaner, effectively ordering an end to the protest by air traffic controllers who are dissatisfied with salary negotiations with their employer, the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA).

The Jamaica Air Traffic Controllers Association (JATCA) says it is also protesting against the 2013 Heads of Agreement, which has imposed a wage freeze on public sector workers. JATCA has described the agreement as inequitable and says that it has created severe stress for its members.

It adds that its protest has also been fueled by the lack of response from the JCAA to its demands to be present during negotiations.

However, the JCAA says it is the air traffic controllers who withdrew from the talks on May 21, after the JCAA sought clarification on a revised claim made by them for an increase in salaries. Director-General Lt. Col. Derby says a subsequent offer of non-monetary benefits was made to JATCA, but there has been no response from the controllers.

Derby says the JCAA is not at liberty to pay an increase given the wage restraints imposed by the Heads of Agreement.

The strike action forced the postponement of JetBlue's flight 1675 out of Fort Lauderdale into Kingston this morning.

That flight was scheduled to depart Fort Lauderdale at 7:00 a.m (6:00 a.m EST), however, passengers were advised of an indefinite delay.

Speaking to The Gleaner from the Hollywood International airport, Tanesha, a passenger, said she had boarded a full flight when the announcement was made.

"I am attending my grandfather's funeral this afternoon and this is the only time I could travel. I think I will miss his funeral," she lamented, noting that she left Philadelphia yesterday and slept in Florida last night in order to catch the earliest flight out.

Saturdays and Sundays are the busiest periods at both airports, with Montego Bay handling an average of 90 flights.

In the meantime, the JATCA has scheduled a press conference for tomorrow to outline the issues and other industrial relations matters.

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