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Transport Workers Worldwide Slam FAA for Decision to Fire Several New York TRACON Controllers - (10/21/2005)

WASHINGTON – The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is sharply criticizing the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to fire several air traffic controllers in the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control for a clerical error related to treatment received for stress as a result of their work, saying it is “appalled” by the action.

The criticism comes in a letter sent to both FAA Administrator Marion Blakey and Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, signed by ITF Civil Aviation Secretary Ingo Marowsky. The letter reads:

“I am writing to express my grave concern at the news of recent actions in the United States. The United States Federal Aviation Administration has made a formal determination to terminate several air traffic controllers in the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control for a clerical error related to treatment received for stress as a result of their work. In the FAA’s determination, it recognizes that the air traffic controllers involved did not conceal the treatment information from the FAA flight surgeon, but rather omitted the reference on one form when the information had been provided to the flight surgeon on another form.

“As this data was readily available to the necessary FAA officials, it appears to the outside observer that the termination is not related to the forms involved, but rather an effort to discourage air traffic controllers from seeking treatment for job related stress conditions. We are appalled by this action by the U.S. FAA. An effective safety management system must include provisions that would ensure the physical and mental health of the workforce responsible for ensuring the safety of individual flights. Actions that create an environment in which air traffic controllers are afraid to seek help for stress related conditions could do nothing but degrade the margin of safety.

“While the effects of this action will be felt by all controllers, I am further dismayed to see that this action is occurring in New York, where only four years ago, air traffic controllers were forced to bear witness to the worst aviation tragedy in history. The global aviation community would expect that the U.S. FAA would be working to ensure that its air traffic services employees are encouraged to seek treatment from mental health professionals if they felt it is necessary, as the psychological effects of witnessing a cataclysmic event are often delayed or triggered by later events.”

The ITF is a global organization of transport workers' unions and brings together more than 600 unions in 137 countries.

“We are proud and honored to have the ITF stand beside us in condemning the agency’s outrageous actions,” National Air Traffic Controllers Association President John Carr said. “The ITF very astutely recognizes the negative impact of this action on the margin of safety in this country, which the FAA continues to degrade in many ways.”


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