Victory for Prospect members at Lydd Airport

Tribunal victory for Prospect air traffic control members at Lydd Airport

The London South Employment Tribunal has found that the previous employer of nine Prospect members – London Ashford Airport Ltd – failed to comply with the transfer of undertakings (TUPE) regulations when it contracted out its air traffic control unit.

Prospect members from Lydd airport outside the employment tribunal

In its judgment released at the end of May, the tribunal awarded five weeks’ pay to each of the claimants as compensation for these breaches.

The claims were brought following a failure to inform and consult staff properly before the transfer on 1 November 2017.

People were first told about the transfer on 23 October – just one week before it happened and the employer rejected a request to recognise Prospect out of hand.

The employer did not arrange for staff to elect a representative and failed to provide the staff or their representative with the information specified by the TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings, Protection of Employment) Regulations.

Although the contract for providing air traffic services made it clear that the transfer would lead to changes in staffing levels and/or terms and conditions, staff were not told that this was even a possibility.

National secretary, Steve Jary said:

“This was one of the most blatant breaches of the TUPE Regulations that I have seen in 30 years of dealing with business transfers. 

“But our members stuck together through that difficult time and it is to their credit that they continue to provide a safe and effective air traffic service to their old employer, despite it treating them as mere chattels.

“The basis of TUPE is that employees should have a say in who employs them, be treated with respect and not have changes to their terms and conditions imposed on them. This is an important victory for Prospect in enforcing this law.”

Since the transfer, the union has built a good working relationship with the new employer – a subsidiary of Air Partner plc – and is now recognised for its air traffic control units at both Lydd and Wycombe Air Park.

Prospect submitted the claims in November 2017, but they were only heard over two days in February 2019.

Three members and Prospect negotiator Steve Jary appeared as witnesses. Adam Ross of Old Square Chambers represented the claimants. 

Pics above: Leaving the hearing on 8 February L-R: Frances Cusack (Prospect legal); Steve Jary (national secretary); Tim Maskens, Glenn Smith and Tony Harbron (Lydd ATC) and Adam Ross (counsel).