* The General Manager at Seville’s air traffic control tower, managed by Ferrovial, threatened an air traffic controller for his possible affiliation with the Spanish Union for air traffic controllers USCA (Unión Sindical de Controladores Aéreos).
* Eldiario.es has gained access to a recording where the General Manager makes it clear that the statement has come down from General Director of FerroNATS, a merger between Ferrovial and the UK ANSP NATS, in Spain.
* A number of e-emails from senior positions within FerroNATS indicate that measures will be taken against those that protest.
In several other e-mails, the supervisors warn controllers that they should be very careful with becoming a member of this union.
FerroNATS, a subsidiary merger of Ferrovial, is the air navigation service provider at 9 airport towers that were privatised in 2011, does not want any of their employees to become affiliated with USCA. Eldiario.es accessed a recording where it is clear that the General Manager of Seville’s airport tower threatens an air traffic controller for their affiliation to USCA that “I can [expletive] throw you out on the street”. The General Manager went on to indicate this policy is being applied directly from the General Director of FerroNATS in Spain. “He knows, he called me, you know that he will not take this well…..He has also told me that you have applied to become members of USCA. Just letting you know that you are playing with fire, USCA is the reason you could lose your job”.
However, the tower General Manager confirms that this should not be taken as a threat, it is only a warning because if the General Director finds out of their intention to become members of USCA, they can go “and [expletive] resign”. “It is no skin of my nose, I am not the one advocating whether USCA is good or bad, all I am saying is that USCA is the entity that will cause this issue to blow up and if you think that USCA will help you afterwards, good luck. I do not give a damn who has applied and who has not, but if he finds out [General Director], and he will find out because he has his contacts within USCA, beware. You will find yourselves out on the [expletive] street”. I am not threatening anyone, I have told him, I prefer to maintain my distance”, as the General Manager of Seville tower affirmed, also employed by FerroNATS.
This is not the only evidence that FerroNATS attempts to deter their air traffic controllers for becoming members of USCA, this includes taking measures against those more belligerent employees. Eldiario.es has witnessed several e-mails where the managers in question have made this point clear in writing.
In one of the e-mails, the Training & Operations Director of FerroNATS informs the General Manager of Seville tower that one of his employees and union official with CCOO (Comisiones Obreras) has requested a meeting with the company. “We are going to arrange the meeting when you and I want. If you can make sure the meeting is during his annual leave even better. Give me a few days when you are available and he is on annual leave and I will summon the union”. As is written in the e-mail from the Operations Director to the tower General Manager. The reply from the General Manager indicates the days he is available for the meeting where the union representative is on annual leave.
Help with “purging Seville”
In another e-mail with the subject “aircraft outside its slot”, by a union official, the tower General Manager is infirmed of an incident involving an aeroplane. The General Manager resends the e-mail to the Operations Director “one way or another, this guy likes the sound of his own voice” says the controllers manager
The tower General Manager at Seville asks Operations Director at FerroNATS for help in “purging Seville”. “I would like to have a meeting to discuss a new strategy”, indicated in an e-mail on the 21st October 2015. Other e-mails confirm senior management’s endorsement of prejudicing against a particular union rep. “Before you publish July’s roster, if it is already published then do not worry, August’s roster will do, send it to me so that I can approve a few things. I want to make sure that his [this union rep] shifts are longer and will look into doing it as soon as possible. He is making your life impossible, so I will make his life impossible too”. Says the Operations Director.
Despite the threats, there are quite a few air traffic controllers working for FerroNATS that are members of USCA (around 50% of the private air traffic controllers including those air traffic controllers in Saerco according to figures from USCA) although all union affiliates are members of CCOO. “At the start, we were affiliated but did not communicate this. A few months ago we went public. There are a lot of people that are affiliated but are not coming out of the closet because they know that the company will not like it”, says one of the affiliated air traffic controllers that has complained about added pressures
FerroNATS denies that these threats exist, “If there is proof, they should report it. If anyone has had their right to join a union obstructed, the individual should report it and dispute it at a labour court”
The communication’s secretary of USCA, Susana Romero, confirms right from the start they were aware “that there were a lot of pressure against being affiliated to USCA, but not against the other unions”. “If there were a higher membership with USCA, it would not be so easy to implement some of FerroNATS reforms. This is a warning to employees: it will not go well for you if you are affiliated with USCA”.