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NATS Banding

Old 13th Sep 2008, 11:26
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NATS Banding

I am starting this thread to try and separate Banding from the current NATS Payrise/Pensions one even though, IMHO there are inextricably linked lessons from the past between them.

I will start with a history lesson prompted by a recent post by GT3 on the payrise thread and aimed squarely at those NATS ATCOs who have joined in the last 15 years. I make no apologies if this gets rather long!

Prior to 1987, anyone lucky enough to be selected for a CAA Cadetship (as it was then) started at the College of knowledge as an ATCO Cadet. This “status” lasted for 9 months whilst you did your basic, unit famil, licence & tech and Aerodrome Control courses followed by a FULL PPL course. Subject to successful progress through those you gained the grade of ATCO IV. Even back then there was constant tinkering with the course content BUT at the start you knew whether you were doing an Airport or Area Course. As I was “Airport” I am somewhat hazy as to what happened to the “Area” people on becoming ATCO IV but for Airport people we were then posted to a unit to validate our ADC ratings.



Approx. 10 months later you returned to the college to do Approach (procedural) then Approach (Radar) courses before retunring to your unit to validate those. Some 2.5 years after starting your Cadetship you Graduated and if you were at that point valid in all ratings you became an ATCO II pre-PPR (Performance and Progression Review) – a status that lasted for 5 years.

IRRESPECTIVE of where you worked ALL ATCOs of the same grade/seniority earned the SAME PAY because we were (still are theoretically) a mobile grade. When the 5 years were up, you had the PPR and then moved to the ATCO II Post PPR scale which again was the same at ALL UNITS.

In 1987 the first WPP agreement came into being which recognised the differences between working at Heathrow and Cardiff (purely for example – no disrespect meant to my colleagues there!) – new ATCOs posted to some units (Heathrow/Gatwick/Manchester/LATCC/SCOATC) would be ATCO 2 elsewhere they would be ATCO 3.



The ATCO II’s at ATCO 3 units would become “Retained Rights ATCO II’s” and stay on the higher pay scales, whilst their newer colleagues would be on a lower pay scale – at that time the difference between ATCO 3 top of scale and ATCO 2 was about £5K.

(See the connection with two-tier pensions here?).



It was said that this would not affect ATCO II’s as natural progression would see them (retained rights ATCOs) gradually move on/retire.

Jump forward to 1993 and in an effort to speed up the process, CAA/NATS offered to “buy-out” the retained rights ATCOs for sums that varied depending on length of service from about £3K to a maximum of £20k for those in the roughly 50-55yo bracket. Many took the dosh, others elected for a “posting of your choice to a an ATCO 2 unit”.

(Again, see the possible link to two-tier pensions and the “it’s ok you can keep your current one, it will only affect new joiners”?)

Having opted for the posting, I personally spent the next 8 years trying to get just that – every 6 months I would get a letter saying Posting Delayed until xxx and it caused me personally a huge amount of external (home wise) aggro – growing family, never knowing where we would be in x-months time. Eventually I got so fed up, I took a revised offer to buy-out my retained rights and reverted to ATCO 3.

Fast forward to 200? and we get banding which just compounds the problem for those of us who have already been through the process before. The difference between ATCO 2 Band 5 and ATCO 3 Band 2 is now over £20K pa – and we all used to be one happy family being paid the same rates – perhaps that explains some of the strong feelings often expressed on these forums.

Personally I do believe that there should be Unit Banding/grading call it what you will but the difference has become too big. As to those who say “get a posting” well tried that – got nowhere, everwhere is short of people (at one point in the late 1990’s my unit had only 15 fully valid Airport ATCO’s on a requirement of 25!) – and I am now not a youngster anymore J

Final iniquity in the current system – if I did manage to get a move to a say Heathrow – (Band 2 ATCO 3 to Band 5 ATCO 2) – NATS do NOT consider that a promotion! So initially there is absolutely no financial gain for at least a year.

If you have got this far – well done! ( Happy to accept corrections on dates etc as it’s a long time ago )

Standing back waiting for incoming

DD
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Old 13th Sep 2008, 11:40
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Nice post DD flak jackets and hats on!!
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Old 13th Sep 2008, 11:53
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Separate thread was a good idea, and your post was very informative for those of us who have ,as you say, joined in the last 15 years.
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Old 13th Sep 2008, 12:44
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DD

Good, informative post - but would you have had the time to write it if you worked at a band 5 unit? (That was so a joke).

I agree there should be a differential in pay, but strongly believe that the gulf top and bottom far too huge.
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Old 13th Sep 2008, 13:09
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DD thanks for that info
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Old 13th Sep 2008, 13:19
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DD; I too tried to get posted from an 'ATCO 3' unit to an 'ATCO 2' unit for eight years without success, eventually I applied for a vacant post at my then present unit thus stayed an ATCO 2. Others were not so lucky; one who refused to accept a downgrade was compulsorily transferred to another unit, failed to validate and ended up at the college, so he won out in the salary scales in the end!!
I agree there should be a differential between units, but NOT as large a differential as presently exists, as it causes people (and we have one at the moment) to want to move on elsewhere as soon as they validate sorry achieve unit competency, thus there is always a heavy training workload and we're always short of dual valid controllers (ADI and APS)

By the way, I did the original ATCO cadet course; 3 years including PPL training with aerodrome, approach, approach radar, area and area radar ratings at the end. We also did a two week course with BEA (BA nowadays) learning how to fly a Trident (sims only of course) plus actual airways navigation at a flying school which taught CPL courses.
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Old 13th Sep 2008, 16:06
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Devil

And the gap will only get bigger year on year with pay rises being the same percentage across the board. Don't know if it's still the case, but when I was in the forces they gave differing levels of percentage pay rises from bottom of pay scale to top of scale to prevent the gap between "rich" and "poor" from expanding. So maybe this year us band 2s could get maybe 10%, and you band 5s out there could get, let's say, 0.5%.
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Old 13th Sep 2008, 17:15
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anotherthing - I accept your jest! I only had time to write it because I am temporarily partially incapacitated and medicated and therefore not working.

Chevvron, I did the BA Trident course too - great fun and on my flight in the real thing got to sit in the right hand seat in the cruise both ways using my newly acquired knowledge to occasionally twiddle the autopilot (under strict supervision of course). How times have changed.
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Old 13th Sep 2008, 19:27
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Band 5's get 0.5%... the way things are looking we should be so lucky!!!!!
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Old 17th Sep 2008, 22:38
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Band 2 ATCO 3 to Band 5 ATCO 2 IS a promotion as I am off to Heathrow in the new year and although I am a Band 3 ATCO 2 I get my 2 points for promotion as I am going to a higher banded unit even though I am staying an ATCO 2.
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Old 17th Sep 2008, 22:52
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Chevvers.....

I agree there should be a differential between units, but NOT as large a differential as presently exists, as it causes people (and we have one at the moment) to want to move on elsewhere as soon as they validate sorry achieve unit competency, thus there is always a heavy training workload
How ironic that the same is also true of my band five unit; many put their posting request in very soon after validation.
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Old 17th Sep 2008, 23:18
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DD,
Incoming.It's quite clear that when our fantasmigorical union stitched up the Atco 3 units at the time,then management must have thought this is wonderful.The union is doing our dirty work for us.
The Banding formula only confirmed this again.I burst out laughing when the union were explaining how they had spent so much time,stabbing us in the back again.
I cannot see how anything will ever change with this issue.The damage is done,and the pay differential will only increase every year.The answer is look after your own interest.If people leave for the sandpit then excellent.They are looking after themselves.If people stay put,then you only get what you pay for.The ones that are doing extra this,or free that are only doing managements job for them.If people did nothing else than what they are contracted to,and that includes stopping AVAA then we might just get somewhere.If people want to leave the union,then why not.I pay the same as a Band5 Atco,but what do we get in return? A magazine.
As far as I'm concerned,my ''career'' ended in Nats in 1991.Since then I am a freelancing contract Atco,who works there because of personal circumstances.I care about Nats as little as they care or have cared about me.
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Old 17th Sep 2008, 23:51
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Vlad,

I maybe mis-stated the promotion thing. I should have made clear I was referring to the pre-banding state of affairs - an ATCO 3 (operational) Posted to an ATCO 2 (operational) post. We were told quite categorically that it did not qualify as a promotion. That has obviously changed.

TAD - can't remember the last time I did an operational AAVA and I am unlikely to do any more. However, for now I doubt there will be little difficulty getting others to do them. (Check PM's)

DD
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Old 18th Sep 2008, 00:02
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Throw A dyce,

That is the most realistic post i have seen on this forum in years!
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Old 18th Sep 2008, 01:24
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Realistic enough to get you back here earning a pittance like the rest of us?
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Old 18th Sep 2008, 07:41
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of course you pay the same union fees. You would expect the same help/representation in any dispute wouldnt you? or would you expect halfway through some meeting ofr them to up and leave and go represent a band 5 unit atco as they had paid more and needed help?
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Old 18th Sep 2008, 08:44
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As a percentage of my pay,I pay a higher rate than a top of the scale Band 5 Atco.This unit has in the past had a very raw deal from Nats and the unions.Many people have left the union ,at the disgusting treatment that has happened.I'm still in the union for some strange reason.Perhaps it's more in hope than anything else.
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Old 18th Sep 2008, 10:18
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Doesn't Prospect have banded fees according to your salary?
I expect all experienced NATS ATCOs fall into the highest band, just goes to show you where our salaries are in relation to other people in the union who have "professional" jobs.
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Old 18th Sep 2008, 11:28
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Yes,From their web site over £33K it's £15.30 a month.That's the top rate.Point is what do I get for £183.60 p.a. when my union has spent the last 17 years doing exactly the opposite,for what I pay it for.Well at this unit anyway.
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Old 18th Sep 2008, 17:27
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Yes,From their web site over £33K it's £15.30 a month.That's the top rate.Point is what do I get for £183.60 p.a. when my union has spent the last 17 years doing exactly the opposite,for what I pay it for.Well at this unit anyway.
Suggest you just leave NATS and Prospect and let us all head off into the tunnel of doom. Plenty of jobs in the "sandpit" I believe. And a few at Heathrow now as a few more have apparently resigned.

I'm sure NATS will bite your hand off if you volunteer to get out of your shafted unit and join the big boys. I'm sure your local rep will be more than delighted to help you with your transfer request.
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