HungaroControl and its employees are unable to come to terms with the agreements regarding wages, making the situation very uncomfortable and complex.
As Daily News Hungary wrote, air traffic controllers were planning to strike in July, despite a 15% rise in their pay and 30% less work. As far as the press knew at the time, navigation employees earned 1-2 million forints (2,769-5,539 euros) per month, which could rise to 2-3 million (5,539-8,308 euros) with benefits. The benefits were said to be really good, including healthcare.
In August, we also wrote about issues caused by a government decree that was introduced to ban the planned strike of air traffic controllers demanding higher wages. Since July, it has been observed that aircraft make larger bends and loops near Budapest Airport. This may be a way to get revenge, not only resulting in longer flights but also extra expenses for airlines.
Recently, Telex did some further investigation into the issue and found out that
despite rumours about wonderful wages for aircraft controllers, in reality, they had a 30-40% decrease in their pay.
A source told the news portal that state- and Covid-related traffic would not have stopped during the strike, despite the fact that the government’s decree had the argument that these important flights would be negatively affected.
Air traffic in the area increased significantly, and considering the number of flights, there has been a 50% growth. This is why, in 2018, employees demanded higher salaries, and the company seemed inclined to meet the employees’ demands, but the discussions were delayed. In 2020, when they started again, the employer, HungaroControl, had a different standpoint regarding wages.
HungaroControl is a 100% state-owned company – in fact, it does not operate from public funds. It derives the vast majority of its revenues from the various fees paid by airlines.
The salaries are calculated based on many factors: the basic salary established in the collective agreement, which increases gradually based on the time spent in the service. Other allowances, shift allowances, and attendance bonuses are added to this sum of money, and if the traffic, education, and safety targets set for a given year are met, a premium is also added to the wage. This can be 16-18% of the annual salary. Employees are also allowed to have two weeks of extra leave, which is the so-called recreational time.
The salaries are said to be decreasing, while the job is difficult. Because of military flights and planes that transported essential tools to help the situation caused by the coronavirus, air traffic controllers continued to work. Furthermore, teaching new employees was added to their tasks, which is a difficult extra effort, especially considering that on-the-job training is not easy in the current situation. Due to changes in traffic, new employees cannot be prepared for any possible scenario, and the responsibility of “educators” is immense.
The theoretical education (classroom and simulator education) has been mandatory for those working as air traffic controllers, while on-the-job training, on the other hand, was voluntary, with extra benefits, writes Telex.
The news portal also wrote that approximately 200 people work as air traffic controllers at HungaroControl, but only 30-40% of the staff teaches others.
The ban of the strike had consequences internationally. For instance, the European Transport Union (ETF) wrote a letter to Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Committee. This was supported by VIDA, an Austrian aviation union.
Source: Daily News Hungary, Telex