Important new pay deals at Birmingham and Gatwick

Tight labour market for ATCOs generates a focus on retention Gatwick ATCOs likely to lead the market in airports for the next few years Birmingham ATCOs’ pay rates leap ahead of NATS Band 3.

Branch members at Birmingham (BAATL) and Gatwick (ANS) are being balloted on pay offers which re-set the market rates for airport ATCOs.

The offers are summarised in the attached circulars. Both ballots start today and conclude on the 22nd.

These deals are the first noticeable results of a substantial shortage of ATCOs – particularly in approach and airport functions. There is an extremely tight labour market at the moment and ANSPs are deploying every tool in the box to achieve and maintain OR.

The Gatwick package is the product of intensive efforts over the last few months to prevent the service delivery issues occurring when the NATS secondees are withdrawn next spring. It aims both to retain staff and to attract some of the NATS secondees to stay at Gatwick by leaving NATS to join ANS.

Both deals are notable for a few of features which suggest some emerging trends:

  • both add one or more pay points to the maximum of the ATCO scales;
  • both take a new approach to contractual notice periods – either varying the notice period (Gatwick), or offering lump sum payments to incentivise retention (both Gatwick and Birmingham). You will recall that NATS started this trend in its last pay deal with the redesign of the good leaver payment;
  • both involve changes to OJTI payments so as to incentivise instructional and evaluation work.

The devil is in the detail and the Gatwick package, in effect, introduces emergency WP.

The enduring pay element of both packages is that the ‘rate for job’ for an experienced ATCO has just gone up quite significantly. This is a direct consequence of the introduction of a commercial market for ATS. Prospect opposed the introduction of a market, but is has been forced on us and we are having to deal with the consequences: inadequate workforce planning, reduced incentives for employers to invest in training and, thus, competition for highly-skilled labour.

Steve Jary
National Secretary
1st August 2017

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