The union argues that the workers were sacked as punishment for publicly raising concerns in 2012 about deficiencies which it claimed were putting at risk the country’s air space, after the IDAC failed to address them.
The special, high-level, court responsible for rulings on these issues ruled in favour of the workers, recognising the ADCA as their union, ruling the dismissals illegal and declaring that the workers should be reinstated immediately. However, the government chose instead to ignore the ruling and remove the judges.
There was a mass demonstration outside the supreme court last week to protest against government corruption. The ADCA’s general secretary, Wellinthon Almonte, said corruption had now reached such a serious level that the union had presented a case to the Human Rights Interamerican Commission.
Speaking from the country’s capital, Santo Domingo, ITF Americas regional secretary Antonio Rodríguez Fritz said: “These workers have sacrificed their jobs to help protect passengers’ and workers’ lives, and their families are suffering because they had the courage to speak up.
“We have seen the corruption of the country as citizens are illegally detained by the police, with no legal procedures or due process. This seems to be the rule used against trade union leaders and activists, and the government’s behaviour is both unacceptable and illegal. Air traffic controllers have expressed their fear that an accident may happen if the safety issues are not resolved, and we call upon the Dominican Republic president to avoid this.”
The union reports that several of the deficiencies the workers exposed have now been resolved but that many safety risks still remain, including excessive hours well above international standards. Incidents it reported included out-of-service navigation aids at La Isabela International Airport, forcing pilots to complete all approaches visually.
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