Why aviation needs effective social partners

30 October 2018

Danilo Pisciottu, CANSO Manager European Regulatory and Social Affairs, provides insight into the importance of social dialogue in ATM and CANSO’s commitments to open and honest dialogue.

As the aviation industry faces rising demand for its services, industry stakeholders must find effective and sustainable solutions for managing this increase throughout its operations and practices. Social dialogue is increasingly a critical component of this as it seeks to create balance and harmony within ATM and promote industry best practice. Encouraging industry-wide adoption is a complex but rewarding task and CANSO is proud to have made a significant contribution to this.

An elegant hotel in the heart of the Vienna city centre provided an evocative location for the closing conference of the ‘Reinforcement of Social Dialogue in ATM’ project conducted by CANSO in cooperation with its European social partners European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and Air Traffic Controllers European Union Coordination (ATCEUC). The joint conference brought together experts from the three organisations as well as institutional actors (European Commission, EASA, Austrian Ministry of Transport, and others), and offered the opportunity to discuss and present the outcomes of the joint two-year project co-financed by the European Commission (DG Employment).

Alexander Hanslik, Director Corporate Strategy and International Affairs, Austro Control, and Tanja Grobotek, CANSO Director Europe Affairs, opened the conference emphasising the crucial role social dialogue plays in light of the challenges ATM will have to face in the near future, from the implementation of new technologies to the introduction of new and more stringent regulatory requirements. “The only feasible way to sustainably tackle this changing environment at all levels”, they observed, “is by harnessing the power of cooperation and dialogue between management and staff”.

Over the past seven years, CANSO has been working with its social partners to champion this approach, focusing on some key areas and issues.

Just Culture

One of the key areas the ATM partners explored during the project is Just Culture. This dates back to 2015, when an informal group of experts, including the professional associations IFATCA, IFAIMA and IFATSEA, started to discuss ways to support the implementation of the EU Regulation on Occurrence Reporting (Reg. 376/2014) in ATM. By 2016, the ATM social partners had identified a number of principles which would foster a healthy and open reporting culture in ATM, and thereby create a Just Culture. This work continued with the current project and led to the adoption of a toolbox setting out best practices on implementing Just Culture across the ATM industry and in the wider community.

Change management

Change is an integral part of aviation, brought on by the evolving business environment, regulatory requirements, as well as new and innovative technologies. Through the project, the ATM social partners have successfully developed and agreed upon guidelines promoting fair, sustainable and efficient change management processes which address the social aspects of change.

The social impact of regulation

Assessing the social impact of new regulatory requirements developed by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is also critical. A few years back the ATM social partners created the ATM Partners Regulatory Task Force (ASPReT), a group of experts focussing on supporting the implementation of EASA regulation. Within this project, this task force has been working successfully with EASA on the social aspects of regulatory impact assessments in the ATM sector.

To reiterate this point, Jean Marc Cluzeau, Principal Advisor to the Executive Director, stressed the importance of engaging with the social partners under the new requirements introduced by the recently adopted EASA Basic Regulation (Reg. 2018/1139) at the conference. He outlined that this requires the Agency to consult stakeholders, more specifically, European union social partners, when developing rules which are likely to have social implications, bringing a fairer, more integrated approach.

Success through engagement

Filip Cornelis, Head of the Aviation Directorate at DG MOVE (European Commission), closed the conference by praising the three organisations for the excellent work delivered. He touched on the key challenges ATM is currently facing, in particular the difficult capacity situation recorded throughout summer 2018. He observed that a solid partnership between ANSP management, trade unions and associations as exemplified by the project, was key to addressing the capacity challenge as it would reduce the likelihood of air traffic control strikes.

Next steps

CANSO and its social partners are committed to continuing to promote social dialogue both internally within the EU Social Dialogue framework, as well as externally by engaging with key institutional stakeholders such as the European Commission and Members of the European Parliament. This includes supporting ANSPs to develop and implement best practice in social dialogue at local level, and liaising with social dialogue partners at EU level to reaffirm the added value of social dialogue in improving performance in aviation.


About the author

Danilo Pisciottu CANSO Manager European Regulatory and Social Affairs

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