CATCU: “Air Traffic Controllers are the victims of CEO’s intimidation”

Croatian Air Traffic Controller’s Union (CATCU) has published a press release regarding the situation within Croatia Control Ltd. (Croatian Air Traffic Control provider):

“It is one of the most difficult occupations today, the job is demanding and carries great responsibility, and there is no room for discord and instability. This is a description of Air Traffic Controllers, and Croatian controllers have been victims of intimidation and arbitrariness of the CEO of Croatia Control Ltd. (HKZP), Vlado Bagarić, for two years now.

Director Bagarić’s actions have a markedly adverse effect on controllers and jeopardize air safety itself. The international community also strongly condemns the actions of Director Bagarić and the intimidation of Croatian air traffic controllers, as expressed by the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers ‘Associations and the European Coordination of Air Traffic Controllers’ Unions in official letters to the highest political bodies in Croatia. At the center of the event was the president of the union himself, who decided to share his experience:

“It seems that I am the latest victim of the arbitrariness of director Bagarić. He first gave me a warning because I refused to act contrary to regulations and endanger air safety, and today he wants to completely remove me from the company because the union did not give in to negotiations. “– said Krešimir Rakoci, president of the Croatian Trade Union of Air Traffic Controllers.

The CEO’s pressure on employees began with the emergence of a crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic when he reduced employees ’salaries by 15% due to reduced air traffic. However, while he reduced the salaries of air traffic controllers, director Bagarić did not change his salary, in fact, he paid himself bonuses for 2018 and 2019. He continued to send information letters to all company employees with frightening information about the company’s operations and a potentially large wave of layoffs, with no specific data or evidence. When asked by the union for access to business books that would indicate such radical measures, the director refused to show documents that would confirm his predictions. The pressure culminated during collective bargaining.

The Croatian Trade Union of Air Traffic Controllers (HSSKL) has fought and is fighting for workers’ rights and the most favorable working conditions for Croatian air traffic controllers, which it proved once again when it successfully negotiated a new collective agreement in July 2021, which obviously upset Director Bagarić. The actions can only be characterized as retaliation for what the controllers managed to negotiate. In addition to the pressure he has exerted on the collective so far, he has especially focused on the president of the union, whom he later wants to dismiss.

This is a great example of why it is important to protect union representatives from the arbitrariness of the employer, and why director Bagarić is currently in the municipal court where he is trying to obtain a verdict in his favor.”