Legal victory for the Dominican Republic air traffic controllers after seven years’ struggle

November 20, 2020

ITF affiliated Dominican Air Traffic Controllers Association (ADCA) celebrates a bittersweet legal victory for it, 28 members, after waging a seven-years long struggle for reinstatement.

Back in 2013, ADCA alerted the authorities about a long list of their concerns about the shortcomings of their country’s air traffic control system that were placing the safety of flight in jeopardy. These concerns included total communications failure in Punta Cana leaving controllers coordinating by mobile phone, along with unserviceable navigation aids at several airports and a control tower working with only an emergency radio for over a year subsequently suffering frequent communications failures.

The Dominican Republic authorities have chosen to overlook these threats to the aviation system and instead to launch an attack on ADCA. Dominican air traffic controllers were prevented from writing any further reports around their safety concerns. Several controllers were either suspended or demoted, and three ADCA officials were arrested for their part in raising their concerns. This campaign from the Government culminated with the dismissal of 28 ADCA members, including some union leaders.

ADCA submitted formal complaints to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and under the CAFTA-DR (the Dominican Republic-Central America free trade agreement).

Throughout the campaign, ADCA was supported by colleagues from around the world, including many ITF air traffic services affiliates in Latin America as well as the US National Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (NATCA) and the Prospect union from the UK. The ITF also provided direct support when the then ITF Americas regional secretary visited the country to help highlight the issues. However, he was arrested by the local police and held for several hours to explain why a foreign national was supporting the controllers in the Dominican Republic.

The ADCA members have recently reinstated thanks to the goodwill of the new Constitutional President Lic. Luís R. Abinader Corona along with the cooperation of the new appointed Dominican Civil Aviation Institute (IDAC) authorities, the country’s air navigation service provider.

ITF civil aviation secretary Gabriel Mocho Rodriguez said: “This is, of course, an important but at the same time a bittersweet victory because the workers and their families have suffered a lot since 2014. We hope that this reinstatement will mean a significant improvement for industrial relations at IDAC, and provide the basis for ongoing social dialogue between the union and the authorities. We will keep a close eye on the developments in IDAC and keep supporting ADCA. ”

View the details of the ADCA members’ seven-year struggle here:

ITF backs Dominican Republic ATCs sacked over air safety warnings
ITF urges action over Dominican Republic arrest and workers’ persecution
ITF official arrested for investigating air traffic control problems in the Dominican Republic, is freed
ITF official’s arrest ‘proves case’ over Dominican Republic ATC hazards
ITF sounds alarm over Dominican Republic ATC crisis risk
Dominican Republic Air Traffic Controllers (news story posted on Prospect ATCOS’ Branch website)

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