With European airspace again in turmoil due to yet another strike by overseas air traffic controllers, Fine Gael Transport Spokesman Simon Coveney has said he will legislate to prevent the Irish air traffic controllers from striking in the future in the national interest, to protect an essential service.
Connections to France and further afield have been seriously disrupted today (Tuesday) as French air traffic controllers join a nationwide strike. Deputy Coveney said he will lobby the European Commission to work towards achieving an EU-wide ban on strike action by air traffic controllers.
“This strike is a huge inconvenience to the travelling public, and is having a significant economic impact. The fact that a small number of very well paid air traffic controllers can shut down access to and from countries is ludicrous.
“So far this year air traffic controllers have gone on strike in Ireland, Spain, Belgium, and France.
“I believe air traffic controllers provide an essential economic service and should not be allowed go on strike. Instead there should be credible alternatives to industrial action to resolve disputes in the workplace.
“So it is deeply regrettable that Transport Minister Noel Dempsey has failed to act on this matter, even though he has supported Fine Gael’s proposal for a No Strike Clause. We first made this call 18 months ago.
“The industrial action by Irish air traffic controllers last January cost the State heavily and closed down the country to business and tourism at a time when we could least afford it.
“Fine Gael will bring forward draft legislation before the Oireachtas within weeks to prevent strike action within this specific sector. I hope Minister Dempsey will follow through on his word and support this legislation to ensure no further closures of Irish airspace. The country simply can’t afford it.”