The staffing number issue in ATC is going to get worse before it gets better. There are 64 controllers currently over 55; the notional retirement age is 52. There are another 80 over 52, so 130+ over the notional retirement age.

With an expectation of “trainees” in the system equalling the controllers licensed; this is a fallacy traditionally there is a 55% pass rate. So reading the attached document, there are expected to be 120 retirements minimum in the next 3 years, and 204 trainees entering, at 55% pass rate that’s just 112 replacements. So recruits won’t exceed retirements and that’s before anyone packs their bags for greener pastures overseas.

If they truly mean taking 180+ recruits in one year (to get 96 rated), well, it’s simply unsustainable so they don’t mean that; we can’t train people that fast.

Look at the Sydney figures it takes 6 months minimum to get rated there an a maximum of 6 trainees at a time (otherwise there aren’t enough seats for the trainees); 60 people over 45. If we started training full time now in Sydney we might just exceed the retirement rate, but unlikely. There are no ab initio recruits in Sydney; there aren’t likely to be in the near future.

A break down of the sick leave and overtime figures is interesting. 40 odd people have been unavailable in those figures for the full year, illnesses like cancer, stress leave etc. So 40 X 47 working weeks, x 36 hours a week, divided by 7.5 hrs (average shift length) or some 9024 days. So the overall sick leave is really 14419-9024 = 5395 days / 971 staff = 5.56 days each; hardly a massive problem.

Overtime however is conducted by rated ATCs only. 971-106 non operational supervisors = 865 Operational ATCs. OT hours 90504 / 865 = 104.62 hours or 13.95 days each; there are many ATCs who chose not to work any overtime, seeking work / life balance.

This whole thing is a house of cards. There have been 98 closures or disruptions to normal service in June 08; it’s going to get worse.

Peter Gibson from CASA was quoted in the media stating that Airservices had taken 100 overseas ATC recruits; there is a big difference between 37 and 100. Has CASA dropped the ball again and played lip services to it’s regulatory responsibilities, believing what the ASA spin doctors say?

I have been in for 18 years, morale has never been so low, people have never before explored OS options with such gusto; Germany, Ireland, Dubai, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi have recruited and are still targeting Australians although ASA doesn’t know it yet, it’s going to get worse; there are at least 20 more out the door before Christmas that I personally know about. I believe the only way out is to change CEOs (this one has lost us) and to give proper consideration at ‘retaining’ the existing staff; otherwise it’s likely to be last one out turn off the lights. People have had enough and then had enough of being pillared by there employer with subtle hints of industrial action or McGuaran’s statements at the Senate estimates like “they’re taking you for a ride” regarding sick leave.