Social actions at air traffic control service skeyes (Belgium) - possible air traffic disruptions

Join this forum to discuss the latest news that happened in the world of commercial aviation.

Moderator: Latest news team

User avatar
sn26567
Posts: 34385
Joined: 13 Feb 2003, 00:00
Location: Rosières/Rozieren, Belgium
Contact:

Re: Air traffic control service skeyes to strike in the evening and night of 12 March

Post by sn26567 » 13 Mar 2019, 21:49

sn26567 wrote:
13 Mar 2019, 15:03
I suggest that next time they plan a 2-hour strike (no salary loss) between 0200 and 0400 at Kortrijk-Wevelgem airport: no damage to the economy, no inconvenience to passengers.
Unfortunately, they didn't follow my nice advice. Instead, they are targetting LGG, the main freight airport of the country, at the hours when it is most active. Well done, guys. Thanks for our economy!
André
ex Sabena #26567

User avatar
Atlantis
Posts: 4072
Joined: 12 Apr 2005, 00:00

Re: Air traffic control service skeyes to strike in the evening and night of 12 March

Post by Atlantis » 13 Mar 2019, 21:53

It is the highest time to start privatising Skyeyes. This goes only about their own benefits, political games (bcs management is elected via politics).

The airport, airlines, passengers has completely nothing to do with it. Our image abroad is already very below zero point and we are seen in Belgium as unreliable. The same level as France and Greece.

I will tell you even more. It is the highest time to close Skyeyes in Belgium for good like it is already a rumour for almost 10 years and to have only one big control in one of our neighbour countries. For a long time Germany was rumoured it to have this huge control center.

The technology is there. You don't need a control tower anymore next to the airport. You can land your plane even from 100 km distance out of a tower.

And as third it is also the highest time for the airports and airlines to sent a formal and legal complaint to skyeyes. They don't give the service which they are paid for.

User avatar
sn26567
Posts: 34385
Joined: 13 Feb 2003, 00:00
Location: Rosières/Rozieren, Belgium
Contact:

Re: Air traffic control service skeyes to strike in the evening and night of 12 March

Post by sn26567 » 14 Mar 2019, 00:06

sn26567 wrote:
13 Mar 2019, 21:49
sn26567 wrote:
13 Mar 2019, 15:03
I suggest that next time they plan a 2-hour strike (no salary loss) between 0200 and 0400 at Kortrijk-Wevelgem airport: no damage to the economy, no inconvenience to passengers.
Unfortunately, they didn't follow my nice advice. Instead, they are targetting LGG, the main freight airport of the country, at the hours when it is most active. Well done, guys. Thanks for our economy!
Apparently, it is not a strike, but a staff shortage, contrarily to what spokesman Dominique Dehaene says. There is no standby for night shifts at Canac2, which means that, if there are absences, nobody can be called in to replace the absentees.

https://www.aviation24.be/air-traffic-c ... ntrollers/
André
ex Sabena #26567

Passenger
Posts: 5861
Joined: 06 Dec 2010, 20:54

Re: Air traffic control service skeyes to strike in the evening and night of 12 March

Post by Passenger » 14 Mar 2019, 07:37

"...Both the ACV/CSC-Transcom and VSOA/SLFP unions filed a strike notice expiring on 23 March with skeyes. They mention a 25-points list of problems, including understaffing and excessive workload..."
https://www.aviation24.be/air-traffic-c ... ntrollers/
The solution for all those 25 huge problems: additional premiums, bonuses and financial compensations.

Agenda for today's meeting: "how are we going to sell to the public that the best paid public servants get another salary increase?"

Acid-drop
Posts: 2547
Joined: 29 Jun 2005, 00:00
Location: Liège, BE
Contact:

Re: Air traffic control service skeyes to strike in the evenings and nights of 12 & 13 March

Post by Acid-drop » 14 Mar 2019, 08:10

Their exisiting salary and existing workload shouldnt be mentioned here, it deviates us from the real issue : hitting our economy so badly for the sole confort of a few people is the highest and ugliest form of selfishness.

Lets hope the minister in charge will finally act.
His silence is unbearable.
Last edited by Acid-drop on 14 Mar 2019, 08:12, edited 1 time in total.
My messages reflect my personal opinion which may be different than yours. I beleive a forum is made to create a debate so I encourage people to express themselves, the way they want, with the ideas they want. I expect the same understanding in return.

User avatar
luchtzak
Posts: 10945
Joined: 18 Sep 2002, 00:00
Location: Hofstade, Zemst - Belgium
Contact:

Re: Air traffic control service skeyes to strike in the evenings and nights of 12 & 13 March

Post by luchtzak » 14 Mar 2019, 08:12

What was the impact on Liège Airport this night ? How many delayed cargo flights ?

evyncke
Posts: 63
Joined: 27 Mar 2016, 19:28

Re: Air traffic control service skeyes to strike in the evening and night of 12 March

Post by evyncke » 14 Mar 2019, 11:06

sn26567 wrote:
13 Mar 2019, 21:49

Unfortunately, they didn't follow my nice advice. Instead, they are targetting LGG, the main freight airport of the country, at the hours when it is most active. Well done, guys. Thanks for our economy!
Actually, if EBLG wants to get cargo during the night, then they should have their own ATC and no rely on Federal Skeyes for APP, TWR and GND...

And, for me, please go on strike 2200-2400LT so I could get some sleep ;-)

SR20
Posts: 260
Joined: 17 Apr 2017, 09:14

Re: Air traffic control service skeyes to strike in the evening and night of 12 March

Post by SR20 » 14 Mar 2019, 11:31

evyncke wrote:
14 Mar 2019, 11:06

Actually, if EBLG wants to get cargo during the night, then they should have their own ATC and no rely on Federal Skeyes for APP, TWR and GND...
APP, TWR and GND were available all night long at LGG last night ! Still they rely on Brussels ACC to feed them ! And that's where the problem was last night !

jan_olieslagers
Posts: 2753
Joined: 24 Jun 2006, 08:34
Location: Vl.Brabant
Contact:

Re: Air traffic control service skeyes to strike in the evenings and nights of 12 & 13 March

Post by jan_olieslagers » 14 Mar 2019, 11:35

APP, TWR and GND were available all night long at LGG last night
In that case, I should think traffic could directly enter their TMA from Dutch airspace, never needing Brussels ACC anayway? The TMA is controlled by Liege Approach, right?

SR20
Posts: 260
Joined: 17 Apr 2017, 09:14

Re: Air traffic control service skeyes to strike in the evenings and nights of 12 & 13 March

Post by SR20 » 14 Mar 2019, 11:42

jan_olieslagers wrote:
14 Mar 2019, 11:35

In that case, I should think traffic could directly enter their TMA from Dutch airspace, never needing Brussels ACC anayway? The TMA is controlled by Liege Approach, right?
Indeed TMA is controlled by Liege Approach. But neighboring dutch airspace (Maastricht TMA) is not available at night, Maastricht airport beeing closed between 2300 and 0600 local time !

And I don't think the Dutch will delegate more of their airspace !
https://eenvandaag.avrotros.nl/item/vli ... aar-erger/

737MAX
Posts: 149
Joined: 29 Aug 2017, 08:46

Re: Air traffic control service skeyes to strike in the evenings and nights of 12 & 13 March

Post by 737MAX » 14 Mar 2019, 12:01

Could we have some inside information from Skeyes employees, instead of what the media keep on saying? I think we all know media nowadays only want to sell, make clics online, etc... before publishing intelligent and accurate info. Right?

Such as:
- High pay
- Excellent working conditions
That lead to comments such as:
"Ass***les; they are paid already way too much and they still want to destroy our economy"

Is there still a structural staff shortage?
If yes (and apparently it's a big yes), caused by?

What are the *real* reasons behind this mess?

I'd just love to destroy comments from members such as "Passenger" who keeps on dreaming of a world where employees could work 24/7 for free in order to compensate for bad managers he keeps on putting on a throne. Or those from "acid-drop" who apparently has something personal (jealousy?) against ATCO's.. :roll:

SR20
Posts: 260
Joined: 17 Apr 2017, 09:14

Re: Air traffic control service skeyes to strike in the evenings and nights of 12 & 13 March

Post by SR20 » 14 Mar 2019, 12:17

737MAX wrote:
14 Mar 2019, 12:01
Could we have some inside information from Skeyes employees, instead of what the media keep on saying?

I'd just love to destroy comments from members such as "Passenger" who keeps on dreaming of a world where employees could work 24/7 for free in order to compensate for bad managers he keeps on putting on a throne. Or those from "acid-drop" who apparently has something personal (jealousy?) against ATCO's.. :roll:
You forgot to mention "mvg" :lol:

If they remain silent, I guess it's because they can't talk too much, as previously stated by one of them !
I quote : "ATCO's remain silent, because as some other jobs (Police etc...), they have judicial self-restraint and can be prosecuted"

mvg
Posts: 41
Joined: 08 Jun 2017, 04:30

Re: Air traffic control service skeyes to strike in the evenings and nights of 12 & 13 March

Post by mvg » 14 Mar 2019, 12:45

Hi everyone,

The staff shortage (controllers were right) was really serious two years ago but Skeyes has been working hard on it and, for example the towers, are fully staffed... Some controllers are now even complaining because they don't work enough :roll: Of course working extra hours means recalls, extra pay, and so on. Not all of them are willing to work extra hours and some are satisfied. But that's how things are there: whatever is done, many of them aren't happy.
The staff shortage was so bad that Skeyes had to pay them a lot of money to work overtime (up to 250%). Some were making more than 10.000€ every 3 months (overtime was paid every 3 months). Now that they are fully staffed and back to normal salary with almost no overtime, it's a huge loss. They aren't happy :lol:

The problem isn't completely solved but it's on its way...

About their training centre in Steenokkerzeel: it was "sold" to a Swedish company. Probably not a good move but there were no belgian instructors available during the staff shortage so that was the solution chosen by the management to be able to have controllers quickly ready without using too many local resources (they were needed for the operations).

@B737MAX: the conditions/salary are those I mentioned in my previous posts. Nothing wrong with this of course and let's be happy for people to be able to work with good condition. What is wrong is that they dare to complain (and strike) so much to get even more, while they are already well above the average.
Of course it's a job with high responsibilities but let's be honest, a controller's day isn't hard there. Not at all... 35 hours a week, roster up to your choice 90% of the time, flexibility to swap with colleagues without limit, very limited peak hours (maybe 1 or 2 hours per shift and if you are lucky you are in break during those) and so on and so on.
Again that's good for them and any of us can apply! But please stop behaving like kids and don't screw up thousands of people's plans! There are better ways to show the public what you need and the first thing is full transparency on your working conditions. But they will NEVER dare to do that... You will always get answers like "the info is available to anyone", "we can't speak because we are no allowed to" (which is false by the way, as long as it's not about anything confidential like an incident), "you don't know what you are talking about" (I do, I really do, and they know it :D

atcofl
Posts: 3
Joined: 14 Mar 2019, 18:04

Re: Air traffic control service skeyes to strike in the evenings and nights of 12 & 13 March

Post by atcofl » 14 Mar 2019, 19:19

Flemish Tower atco here. I feel there is a lot of negativity here, and I'm bracing myself; but I'm willing to take a shot at defending our viewpoint.

There 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.

Initially, 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).

So, that explains why there is a staff shortage. Now management is an expert at making the company's problem the personnel's problem. This means that they:
- refuse parental leave (absolutely illegal, you can legally only postpone it once for 6 months)
- Refuse "loopbaanonderbreking", refuse to pass on the paperwork to the RVA or make amendments to the requests (also absolutely illegal)
- Make people work 12 days in a row, followed by a 2 day break and again 12 days (strangely enough that's perfectly legal, though one can question the safety implications of the fatigue that causes)
- When people want to take holidays, they change part of the holidays to regular days off, so they can work more the rest of the month. (so, if you take 14 days leave, they would give you 5 days holiday and 5 day regular 'off', plus the weekends. Since you have already had 5 'off' days that month, you can basically work all days the rest of the month without incurring overtime)

Furthermore, and separate from the staffing, they:
- Waited a month longer than usual to bring out the holiday schedule, even though it was finished for weeks already.
- Refuse holidays beyond 2 weeks in the summer months (the legal minimum), even for the towers where there is more than enough staffing.
- Have actively instructed the planning department to actively disregard the request atcos in CANAC make for their rosters and just plan them as needed.
- When people are sick on a stand-by shift, they just cancel the shift and let the people be home as a day off. Which means, no sick leave pay, no standby fee or any other kind of payment. However, now their sending control doctors to check if people are really sick on what is then day off (illegal, imagine having a doctor at your door on a Sunday to see if you're really sick).
- A complete disregard for their personnel. I could go on about all the proposals they have made to change the system, it's absolutely a disgrace (even though those proposals are not approved and not a part of this social action).
- Tower atcos, especially from Brussels, who have been waiting for almost 10 years to start their CANAC training (which is still necessary to progress your career) are being passed over by atcos who have been operational less than 6 months.

it's not only the atco's that feel this way. The technical staff is also having actions and might go on strike if no agreement is reached on Monday (which would also heavily impact flight operations). Administrative staff also has points on the strike notice.

There was a time that the social peace in Belgocontrol worked quite well. When people were sick, other people would happily come to work to cover the shift, without the need for additional payment or overtime pay (hours could just be compensated). Now, we're in a situation where we feel that management is both incompetent and trying to actively screw over their employees. At some point, you just have to think about ourselves. If no actions were undertaken, the situation would only have gotten worse. We now have a clear and reasonable set of demands management can quite easily agree to. With some good will, we can get out of this. But I'm afraid management is not going to go for it; which means it is going to get a lot worse before it is going to get better. We really have tried everything else. As we say in Dutch, de kruik gaat zo lang te water tot ze barst. The action of Tuesday night, after the staff meeting, was deliberately a low impact strike to send a final warning. If Monday no positive signals are being sent, you better brace yourself.

Apart from that, the action on Tuesday and the national strike were really the only strikes. The other nights that there were restrictions, people really were sick. Refusing to come in for a night shift to cover, if you have just 4 or 5 days off that month is not 'a strike', it's really just basic self care.

Also note that out of the 27 points on the strike notice, 0 are about salary or additional benfits for atcos. (There is some discussion about pay for technicians, which is related to the fact that they also have licenses from next year onward and they now work a lot more night and weekend shifts than a few years ago, since they shifted major technical works to the night after the black-out debacle of may 2015).

jan_olieslagers
Posts: 2753
Joined: 24 Jun 2006, 08:34
Location: Vl.Brabant
Contact:

Re: Air traffic control service skeyes to strike in the evenings and nights of 12 & 13 March

Post by jan_olieslagers » 14 Mar 2019, 19:31

Thanks for extensive and well-written reply. Regarding the
We now have a clear and reasonable set of demands
: could you post that? Or perhaps it has already been given here? Or perhaps it is confidential?

Having learned to check for what is not said/written, I observe that there is no denial of earnings being quite good ... but that there is discontent, at least with some, about style and professionalism in the management - or rather the lack thereof.

atcofl
Posts: 3
Joined: 14 Mar 2019, 18:04

Re: Air traffic control service skeyes to strike in the evenings and nights of 12 & 13 March

Post by atcofl » 14 Mar 2019, 19:56

We do have a certain strategy regarding the demands we have, so I'm not going to go in detail about it, but things would go a long way if management would just follow the law and the company internal rules.

Obvious pay is quite good, not as good as some people on this forum or elsewhere write though. I, as a tower controller, earn normally about 4100-4300 nett per month (if I worked the full month and did a normal number of Sunday shifts, standby shifts etc...) A controller in CANAC normally earns at least 500 nett more per month. Supervisors even more.

jan_olieslagers
Posts: 2753
Joined: 24 Jun 2006, 08:34
Location: Vl.Brabant
Contact:

Re: Air traffic control service skeyes to strike in the evenings and nights of 12 & 13 March

Post by jan_olieslagers » 14 Mar 2019, 20:25

Thank you very much! And my every respect for not disclosing certain details.

SR20
Posts: 260
Joined: 17 Apr 2017, 09:14

Re: Air traffic control service skeyes to strike in the evenings and nights of 12 & 13 March

Post by SR20 » 14 Mar 2019, 21:18

Thank you atcofl. Welcome to this forum.
And good luck.

737MAX
Posts: 149
Joined: 29 Aug 2017, 08:46

Re: Air traffic control service skeyes to strike in the evenings and nights of 12 & 13 March

Post by 737MAX » 14 Mar 2019, 21:34

Thanks indeed for your feedback.
Always nice to hear what reality is all about.

Atco EBBR
Posts: 118
Joined: 21 May 2012, 13:11

Re: Air traffic control service skeyes to strike in the evenings and nights of 12 & 13 March

Post by Atco EBBR » 15 Mar 2019, 00:56

Thank you, atcofi for stepping in and setting some things straight (and taking the time to do that). What you've said is absolutely correct. I'll just add some thoughts of my own:

I am one if those currently in training in canac: the rostering problems are real, very far from solved and very likely to persist for years to come. Training 8 atcos/6 months seems like an absolute max to me, because it would imply that between 7 and 22 LT, about 90% of the executive control would be done by stagiairs. I'd call that undesirable at best... I think 6 per 6 months is more realistic.

On 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?

Yes, we do have +/- 3 hours break per shift, but that's really necessary. You need focus for this job, a focus that you just can't hold for hours straight, no matter what. After 1 hour it becomes much harder to concentrate. I've often gone home with a headache, especially when you're still learning...

Someone mentioned that atcos have found a way to strike and still get paid: that is untrue. In fact, those collegues who sriked 2 hours during the night will loose 6 hours (2 work hours + 4 night compensation hours).

Another suggestion was to strike at Kortrijk, to minimise the impact. There is no control service at Kortrijk, only flight information service. One would think that this would be common knowledge on an aviation forum...

I think we'd get a whole lot further if skeyes would honer the legal rights of its employees (parental leave, loopbaanonderbreking, rostering) as well as our internal rules (selection of candidates for ACC/APP course, timely publishing of holiday planning,...).

Unfortunately, I'm afraid the turmoil is far from over...

Post Reply