Conflicting interests in air
NEW LABOUR announced this Tuesday that it was to sell off 49 percent of the National Air Traffic System (NATS) to the Airlines Group consortium, which includes companies like Virgin Atlantic and British Airways. This is another example of Labour's privatisation madness.
"If the government get away with privatising NATS they can get away with privatising anything." This is what Mark Sewotka, general secretary elect of the civil servants' PCS union, said at a public meeting on Monday at Heathrow airport in west London. Privatisation will threaten safety, and workers' terms and conditions.
The air traffic control unions, PCS and IPMS, have been heavily lobbying for the Airlines Group to get the deal because the other consortium bidding for the contract was led by Serco, a company with a horrific record. "People are very angry and worried," an air traffic controller told Socialist Worker. "Everybody is totally opposed to privatisation. Over 90 percent of workers in both unions voted for strikes in a consultative ballot earlier this year."
Those votes show the mood to fight privatisation amongst air traffic controllers. Union leaders will need to act on this mood if privatisation is to be stopped.