ATS saga — Moving on

The Air Terminal Services issue attracted a massive following locally and abroad since it erupted on December 16 last year, until workers returned to work on Monday.

It dominated the news and attracted a huge following on social media.

As negotiations continue on a number of issues between members of the Federated Airlines Staff Association (FASA) and ATS, we are left to ponder on the weeks spent on the saga, and the outcome.

FASA national secretary Vilikesa Naulumatua said on Monday that negotiations on salaries and improving working conditions would continue. He said while the workers were happy to be back at work, FASA members still had demands that needed to be addressed.

ATS reiterated its January 20 assurance that it would implement the order of the Employment Relations Tribunal.

“ATS notes, without prejudice, that the decision from the tribunal does not prevent any disciplinary measures from being taken against the workers for abandoning their positions and engaging in an unlawful walkout,” the statement said.

It is also seeking legal advice on certain aspects of the tribunal’s decision, to consider additional legal steps.

The company made a point of also commending all employees who remained in their posts since December 16.

Obviously there was a reason to begin with for the turn of events.

It is important that stakeholders review how things eventually turned out, and understand the intimate details that could have averted the long stand-off.

Communication understandably is important.

In many instances in our lives, it is when talks stop that we hit a brick wall.

As we look back at the event now, sceptics will probably insist much more could have been done to avert what turned out to be a long-drawn episode.

For now though, it is encouraging to note that communication lines are open again and talks are continuing to iron out differences.

As Mr Naulumatua said, there were still issues to discuss, and this would be done when staff members returned to work.

It was good to see joy on the faces of the returning workers.

The challenge though is on the two parties to put their differences aside, come to the table, and discuss issues.

It is now about putting everything on the table and honestly discussing issues that matter to both parties, and finding solutions.

We hope the stand-off is now history, and lessons were learnt to avert such instances in the future.

Emphasis now should be on reaching mutual understanding and a commitment that is good for the company, its workers, and eventually the nation.

The roll-on effects can then be very positive.

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