Nice input from controllers, thank you for that.
True. But at least they have decided to do something. I am not defending the current management but at least they have started to act. They are not the first management who reacts late. Strike should have happened way earlier when they were not reacting. Now they are! 30 Atco's per year is a lot!atcofl wrote: ↑14 Mar 2019, 19:19There really is a lack of staffing at Belgocontrol and the reason for this is mismanagement. The current situation arose when 10 years ago or so, the then management decided to not hire any new people (not only atco's, but generally almost nobody), since they wanted to cut costs and they believed that technology would further improve, believing they could manage the same traffic or more with less people. Even at that time they knew they were just a few years away from a huge wave of retirement.
Well, their predictions were wrong, people retired and there was a large staff shortage. Current management, in 2015, decided to do something about that and started one recruitment campaign. Soon realising this wasn't enough, they have increased their hiring to +/- 30 atco's per year, about 2/3 of whom pass.
Bit of contradiction here... A few years back they had the opportunity to redesign the careers: when they tried, unions refused it! Remember the story with the tower controllers becoming radar controllers? Controllers in Brussels were so scared that the "little" controllers would get the same licence as them... And the salary...atcofl wrote: ↑14 Mar 2019, 19:19Initially, in 2015, the staff shortage was present in all units. And if they had thought forward a few years back then, did have an opportunity to redesign how atco careers work at Belgocontrol. They didn't, which leads to the current mess.
In Belgocontrol, as one of the few (or only) ANSPs in Europe, every atco starts their career at a tower (the regions or Brussels). Tower atcos can then, after a few (or many) years follow training to work in CANAC (approach or ACC). So, when they started the recruitment in 2015, the towers started to fill up in 2017 and at a higher rate from last year onward. But only when the towers had enough staffing, did they start the training for CANAC. That means that in the last 10 years, no new atcos have joined CANAC (bar a few foreigners and people who restarted operational work from non-ops work), while many have retired. The atco's who are in training for CANAC are now doing their on-the-job-training and should finish it within the next few months, with a second batch on the way. This is however not even good enough to replace the people set to retire, so filling the staff shortage is a long way off.
Now, management realises that they're not even close to solving the problem and with all the social action ongoing, they're starting to panic. So their latest plan from this week is to take people who have just finished their initial training and directly drop them in the CANAC training that started last week. In defiance of all rules at Belgocontrol. They have not yet realised that this will not solve anything; since the big bottle-neck is the on-the-job-training. In CANAC, there are a limited amount of working positing, so there are a limited amount of people who can do their training at the same time. Putting more people at the same time in training is just causing them to wait longer. There is some discussion to the numbers, and if they can be increased, but realistically, you can train around 8 people for ACC and APP combined per 6 months. (The plan of theirs is sure to be shut down by the unions, after which Belgocontrol will claim they had a perfect solution that would solve everything and blame the unions for not agreeing).
10 years without recruitment is true and that's a shame.
Management is now in panic: of course! The towers are almost fully staffed (as I already mentioned in a previous post) but Canac remains a problem. So they came up with the solution to take people straight from initial training to radar: this is how it works in all other countries! Look at Maastricht UAC for example! They train them straight to be en-route controllers (by the way Masstricht UAC has no towers). What's wrong with that? Why are belgians Atcos always against change? Have you tried to have an ab-initio trainee checked out straight to radar? No, it hasn't happened yet: give it a chance! If UK, France and Germany do it, why not Belgium? Of course the training will have to adapted but that's way cheaper and shorter than first paying the training for tower and then a second full training for radar! One training per Atco instead of two... Other countries have understood that! Don't refuse the change! Give it a chance!
About training too many controllers at a time in Canac: you are right, there are limits. But 6 per shift isn't unrealistic in the current desperate situtation: 1 for approach, 1 for east, 1 for west, each of them one hour on one hour off (which is what happens) and that's it! Do that each morning and each afternoon and you train 12 people per day with never more than one per "unit section". Where is the problem?
The situation is difficult, that's true.Atco EBBR wrote: ↑15 Mar 2019, 00:56On average, I estimate the success rate of trainees to be around 75%. So, let's say 4-5 atcos succeed per 6 months. In the coming years, there will be a huge retirement wave. I'd say anywhere between 6 to 15 retirees per year. Seeing that we're already +/- 10 FTE short, it doesn't take a math wizard to see where this is going... Or does anyone think it is a good idea to have controllers work 7, 8, 9, ..., 12 days on end, 1 or 2 days of and then again such a series?
"Arbeidsreglement/reglement de travail" allows controllers to work 12 days in a row and then 2 off BUT over 3 months, the average must be 35 hours per week per quarter (of a year). In other words, if they make you work hard the first month, then the other two months of the quarter must compensate. Isn't that rule respected?
The other problem is that Canac's personnel is foreseen for sectors that never open. How often are all the sectors opened at ACC? NEVER. Why no accept to reduce reasonably the amount of Atcos present per shift? How many controllers are present per shift? At night at Brussels approach and tower: why is approach open at night while there are almost no flights into BRU? That's 3 controllers per night (6 per day) present for nothing! That almost solves your missing people now! Because controllers don't want to make any concessions!
We agree that problems are serious but efforts have to come from both sides!
I'll answer the rest later but basically we agree on the problems but not on the solutions. For a company to run, both sides need to make efforts.
One item on which I disagree are the salaries. Every controller in CANAC is above 5500/6000euros after tax (6000 for those with some seniority). Those who worked overtime were getting above 10000 every 3 months (250% paid). You forget to mention the 3 premies (end of the year + company + holidays) which gives at least 800 euros extra per month) so that is minimum 6300/6800 euros per months per controller without the 250% premies for the recalls and stuff.
What management tries to implement is to get back fast to acceptabke staffing levels. They have already done that with creative solutions in the towers (hiring people from abroad for example). Let them do this with Canac (one thing at a time).
So please work all together and do not ruin people's plans every second week with silly strikes. Management needs to come up with decent solutions and you have to accept the changes and at least try them! Don't say no to say no. You are not the management!