2 August 2021

Ballot of NATS members underway

PCS has launched a consultative ballot of our members in NATS, the UK’s main air navigation service provider, to ask them if they would consider action in a dispute over pay, pensions and attacks on redundancies arrangements.

The last 18 months have been challenging for both PCS and the UK’s air traffic provider NATS. PCS has worked to secure members’ roles and worked alongside the employer to do all we can to reduce costs and provide pragmatic solutions to the devastating impact of the pandemic.

Sadly, the employer has not taken this collaborative approach and trust has been all but destroyed and our time-honoured approach to working together in NATS (formerly National Air Traffic Services) has been tested like never before.

Our trust issues started in May 2020 when NATS took unilateral action against the trade unions by serving notice on our redeployment and redundancy agreement, or NATSAG01. This collective agreement formed the fundamental building blocks of our relationship. The employer deemed it unaffordable, an argument PCS rebutted based on the way our business is regulated, but NATS pressed ahead and on 21 May 2021, after 3 months of negotiations, NATS pulled out of its own talks, and we entered a new period with no redeployment and redundancy agreement in place.

£8m paid in managerial bonuses

NATS then continued to test the resolve of PCS by failing to engage us on defined pension deferrals, a move which could have seen the defined benefit scheme not funded for over 21 months, rather than the 3 months The Pensions Regulator was suggesting. They continued to unnecessarily spend more than £8 million on non-negotiated managerial bonuses during a cash crisis and using the unaffordable terms of NATSAG01 to remove more than 400 people from the company. Our members also deferred their pay rise of 2.3% which allowed for discussions to be held in October 2020 with the view to reinstating the 2.3% when air traffic picks up. The pay award is still outstanding with no agreement on when members can expect it back.

Despite the double standard we have attempted to work with NATS to find a resolution to our dispute. Again, in an unprecedented move, the employer has made an offer to Prospect to discuss negotiations, which includes re-instating the RRA policy until December 2022 and an agreement to discuss the outstanding pay award. This offer has been made only to Prospect grades and while it is yet to be agreed PCS was not offered the same opportunity to discuss negotiations. We will not be treated as second class citizens within the workforce. We will not accept this and have demanded an urgent meeting with NATS, and we will advise members when we have secured a similar offer for PCS members.

We remain willing to negotiate however the actions of NATS has led us with no other option than to run a consultative ballot for our members from 27 July to 12 August to demonstrate the frustration they feel.

If you have not received your ballot yet contact your local rep, whose details you can find through PCS Digital.

It is vital members vote yes in this ballot and send a clear message to NATS.