The Romanian air traffic controllers on Friday ended around 12:30hrs, being shortened from two hours to one hour and a half, said Valentin Cimpuieru, ROMATSA general manager. Air restrictions have been lifted and air traffic went back to normal. ROMATSA general manager voiced hope that a new collective albour agreement would be soon signed.
Romanian air traffic controllers have initially announced they were on a warning strike on Friday from 11:00 to 13:00. Only 33.3 per cent of the flights scheduled during these hours will be assisted, the rest being suspended or even cancelled. According to Digi24, about 44 flights are affected, four of them in Cluj.
Trade union leader Gabriel Tudorache said that there are chances that no plane should take off on the Otopeni airport or on the Cluj airport.
“The trade unionists from the Air Traffic Services Trade Union in Romania (ATSR) are apologizing for the upset caused to the passengers due to the warning strike. We want to say the following: the warning strike comes after a long fight to maintain the prestige of ROMATSA, to keep it non-political and to prevent it from being embezzled. We don’t seek financial advantages, but the safety of our jobs, considering that the institution is facing bankrupt and division due to a defective management. They have sold the land, is the sky next? The increase of flights on the Romanian territory and the decrease of the number of air traffic controllers currently represents an attack against the air traffic safety, despite our efforts to efficiently manage the Romanian air traffic,” says the ATSR press release. Trade unionists also ask the wide public to understand them and to be supportive.
According to the regulation in the field, in case of warning strike, the air traffic controllers must ensure 33 per cent of the traffic.
Trade union leader Tudorache explained that the authorities in Brussels are the ones to decide which are flights to take off or to land, through the Network Manager service within Eurocontrol, which takes care of the traffic regulation. Therefore, the airlines should know what are the flights taking off and landing for they have filed the flight plan to Eurocontrol.
Blue Air representatives informed that their flights will not be cancelled on Friday, but they will have delays, while Wizz Air announced that disturbances are possible, although they have vowed to operate all flights to and from Romania on schedule. “We recommend our customers traveling to and from Romania on Friday, May 12, to check the flights’ situation and on-line information on their mobile app or on our website,” reads the Wizz Air press release.
The strikers’ demands
The strikers ask that a new collective labour agreement to be signed. They are also discontent with the lack of a budget and with the fact that the ROMATSA still has an interim leadership. Strikers want more air traffic controllers to be hired, as their number has been diminished following retirements. They also want to be able to retire at a younger age or to be relocated to another positions inside ROMATSA.
ROMATSA is the state company boasting the highest pays in Romania. According to the 2016 budget, the monthly gross average salary, bonuses excluded, is almost EUR 5,000 (RON 21,430). ROMATSA employers also get about 24 severance packages on retirement.