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Beirut Air Traffic Controllers Strike 1 Hour, Wednesday, For Better Wages

May 16

Beirut Air Traffic Controllers Strike 1 Hour, Wednesday, For Better Wages

The committee of air traffic controllers announced it would stop working from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Wednesday to draw attention to its demand for increased salaries, an airport source said on Tuesday.

The strike has been scheduled to coincide with the current Cabinet's final session.

The committee has been demanding benefits and the implementation of the salary scale law specific to air traffic controllers. It has also demanded that the government hire more air traffic controllers, experts and approve the necessary funds to finance important projects.

The committee said it was “obligated” to go on strike, 'because we do not have enough time to enter into negotiations and discussions,' sources told local newspaper Al-Akhbar in a report published Tuesday.

Last month, the Lebanese Air Traffic Controllers Association warned in a statement that Lebanon's air traffic control was in an 'extremely dangerous' situation and putting air safety at risk.

LebATCA urged the government to meet a list of demands on improving the training, hiring and promoting processes of air control officers before parliamentary elections on May 6.

According to LebATCA, air traffic controllers' income, taking into account living costs and inflation rates in the country, is 'the lowest pay among controllers in neighboring countries and the region.'

LebATCA argued that the air control offices are extremely understaffed. With 20 air traffic controllers and 18 assistant controllers currently on the team, staff numbers fall short of LebATCA's suggested minimum of 75 officers, or the ideal team size of 105.

A Cabinet decision of October 2016, in line with recommendations from the International Civil Aviation Organization, called for the hiring of 30 assistant officers, but has yet to be implemented.

However, despite the need for more employees and training, LebATCA is now rethinking the demands, after the 2018 state budget endorsed last month slashed ministries’ budgets by 20 percent.