No one really believes that the air traffic controllers who were scheduled to turn up for work last Saturday had suddenly become disabled by illness.
Some of these disabled officers were seen the night before in apparent good health, and they showed up for work on Sunday with no apparent after-effects from their paralysing illness.
The reason for their absence, in the words of their labour union representative, Senator Ray Davis, was due to a “convergence of coincidence,” which we interpret as convoluted hyperbole meaning they intended to skip work.
What are the odds that six air control officers could become disablingly ill at the same time? If two should become so ill that they cannot get out of bed to go to work, that would be a coincidence!
If three of them should become disabled by illness at the same time, that would be indicative of an epidemic of some kind. But if six air traffic controllers all become disabled by illness on the same day- that defies reason which no amount of “convergence” can explain.
Clearly the air traffic controllers wanted to make a point. But if they don’t come clean and say what’s bothering them, they should not expect any public sympathy.
Being an air traffic control officer is a stressful occupation, and the increased traffic at the Phillip Goldson International Airport, with domestic and international flights zig-zagging in and out, is perhaps adding to the stress.
But taking unauthorized sick-leave without prior notice, and leaving no competent person to manage the air traffic is a cop-out!
It was callous of the air traffic control officers to desert their posts without prior warning, knowing that more than a dozen international flights with more than a thousand tourist visitors on board would be depending on them for vital landing instructions.
Without their active collaboration these airline visitors would be forced to change their plans and fly to another destination.
We don’t share the view that this little adventure by a small band of air traffic controllers should now be swept under the carpet. We believe that a commission of inquiry should be set up to investigate what’s happening in the Civil Aviation Department and why air traffic controllers believe they have to resort to such extreme measures to make their point.