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The last of NATS VR ?

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The last of NATS VR ?

Old 29th Jul 2020, 22:28
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Unhappy The last of NATS VR ?

The company have polled all employees for a statement of interest, for what will be ( IMHO ) the last, significant, outlay of redundancy payments. As their intention to “tear up” NATSAG next May, will make healthy severance packages a thing of the distant past. Sad days indeed. My main concern - as it was when the DC pension employees joined the company - are the demotivating consequences that will inevitably occur. ATC cannot function properly with demotivated staff.
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Old 30th Jul 2020, 11:28
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Unfortunately until such times as NATS and other ANSPs, and indeed the entire aviation sector, work out exactly what the future potentially holds then there is going to be uncertainty and demotivation. Our colleagues in the airlines have taken the brunt of this but ATC will also face its own challenges purely based on logistics of fewer flights and perhaps fewer airports.

As far as I know, NATS are not looking at a reduction in operational staff - not yet anyway. The quandary for those affected is jump now with a substantial amount of cash or wait and take a chance. Downside is they get pushed next May with a stat redundancy package. Maybe NATS have played this well for that very reason? Use the fear factor to get as many as possible away asap! There may also be some disgruntled operational staff who would happily go now under NATSAG01 but haven't been offered, yet may get forced out next year under the new package. All in all it makes for an unsettled workplace and unhappy workers.

Last I had heard there were other options on the table to save cash. Sabbaticals and part time working, enhanced retirement package and a few others. Surely it would make sense to reduce the pay total but still have personnel available for the upturn. Once someone is gone then the savings may be there but the replacement is not so simple.
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Old 30th Jul 2020, 17:32
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In the past, late 90’s/early noughties, some NATS staff who opted for VR, were rehired on a consultancy basis. I don’t know how that would work these days regards personal taxation, as the aforementioned VR was taxed anyway ?

I can think of dozens of people, mid to late fifties, who will bite their arm off to walk away. Than in itself has proved to be very counter productive. The ones who weren’t selected, literally “downed tools” and the atmosphere was appalling. I know of two individuals who sold up , bought whopping great plots of land and cars, etc, prematurely, to have the rug pulled from beneath their feet.Nepotism, unfortunately, plays a part in selection.

NATS and it’s Executive have their work cut out.
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Old 30th Jul 2020, 18:10
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Anyone who spends money they haven’t yet got is a bit silly.

As noted above, this latest round of VR is very clearly not applicable to any operational staff.
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Old 30th Jul 2020, 18:15
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Originally Posted by Spambhoy View Post
In the past, late 90’s/early noughties, some NATS staff who opted for VR, were rehired on a consultancy basis. I don’t know how that would work these days regards personal taxation, as the aforementioned VR was taxed anyway ?

I can think of dozens of people, mid to late fifties, who will bite their arm off to walk away. Than in itself has proved to be very counter productive. The ones who weren’t selected, literally “downed tools” and the atmosphere was appalling. I know of two individuals who sold up , bought whopping great plots of land and cars, etc, prematurely, to have the rug pulled from beneath their feet.Nepotism, unfortunately, plays a part in selection.

NATS and it’s Executive have their work cut out.
As an ATSA I am considering getting away from the industry completely, 8 years service so no life changing amounts of money to come. I am doubting even if the role will still exist. The uncertainty is a nightmare, personally I can’t see them just continue to employ and pay until next May, by then severe damage will be done.
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Old 30th Jul 2020, 18:42
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In a way I genuinely think that NATS management are on a loser here no matter what they do. Continuing the business exactly in its present form is not sustainable. Knowing how deep and quick to cut is in crystal ball territory and whether they get it right or wrong will only be apparent in a few years time. The other question to answer is how did it get so top heavy with non-operational staff in the first place? I have seen some horrendous waste of cash over the years and I'm sure I'm not alone in that, its only now that its suddenly become a major issue and needs stopped urgently! The sad fact is that if spending had been somewhat more closely monitored when times were so good, perhaps the business would be in a better place to face this current situation it finds itself in - just a thought. I recall relatively junior managers getting huge bonuses for managing relatively benign projects that in the private sector would simply be part of their job. People were flying round the country on trivial business meetings involving overnight hotel accommodation, managers seemed to spend their entire working weeks on meetings about meetings, drawing up procedures that needed reviewed every few months which involved more meetings. As someone who has seen both sides of ATC, this just didn't seem normal to me, yet for those that were NATS from trainee days this was the normal practise for them.

I believe NATS has around 5000 employees, I wonder what the future figure is intended to be? I will be very surprised if operational staff escape the grim reaper, as I have said though, there will be some very disgruntled ATCOs/ATSAs if they arent given the opportunity to apply for VR until after next May after watching their non-ops colleagues walk away with eye watering sums of money in the interim.
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Old 30th Jul 2020, 19:33
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To be fair, I think NATS has been pretty fiscally responsible over the years (and you can see what the airlines thought of this fact during the RP2 and RP3 consultations) and this has meant it has weathered the crisis so far very well. Just compare it to any other aviation organisation and how their employees are getting on.

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Old 31st Jul 2020, 13:38
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Originally Posted by Gonzo View Post
To be fair, I think NATS has been pretty fiscally responsible over the years (and you can see what the airlines thought of this fact during the RP2 and RP3 consultations) and this has meant it has weathered the crisis so far very well. Just compare it to any other aviation organisation and how their employees are getting on.
Maybe they have been and I agree, they have done better than their airline counterparts to date - however I believe the pain has yet to come for ATC in general, not just NATS. All I can go on is some of the wasteful practises I have seen and been totally surprised at. My experience is in airports and not the centres so again perhaps different approaches. The only point I would make is why did NATS have to introduce the Solutions model if the real NATS model was efficient and cost effective?

The title of this thread is
The Last of NATS VR
The real tragedy in all of this is when/if there will be a thread titled
The First of NATS CR
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Old 31st Jul 2020, 17:12
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why did NATS have to introduce the Solutions model if the real NATS model was efficient and cost effective?
...Because of pressures to reduce costs from airlines and thence from airport customers. Exactly the same as the above with airlines and NERL in RP2/RP3.

I agree, there may well be pain to come, but we just can’t tell yet. We might get back to 80-90% of 2019 levels next summer If there’s a vaccine, or we might never, ever get back to 75% if things get worse over winter.

Let’s hope that Prospect can get a fair deal on the redundancy agreement.

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Old 31st Jul 2020, 19:21
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You’re quite correct, Sir, I wasn’t thinking, I should have said Prospect and PCS. Apologies! Hopefully you know me well enough to know that I’m usually more inclusive.
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Old 1st Aug 2020, 12:05
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Originally Posted by autothrottle View Post
Not just Prospect. The redundancies affect PCS grades too. Agree with Gonzo on the rest, the pressure from airport customers (NSL side of business) over the last few years has cut a LOT of fat away. There not a lot left to get rid of.
I retired from the NSL side and from 2 years previous to me leaving, half the building was shut down to heating and lighting. All the lighting, bar approach and TC were on PIR’s. All taps were changed to push buttons which self regulated. All carried out to offset against the stringent contract limitations with the airport. It was like stepping back in time.
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Old 2nd Aug 2020, 07:52
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Originally Posted by Spambhoy View Post
as it was when the DC pension employees joined.
you remember of course existing staff let that happen by way of a vote? The damage was splitting the workforce into them and us.


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Old 2nd Aug 2020, 08:46
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I retired from the NSL side and from 2 years previous to me leaving, half the building was shut down to heating and lighting. All the lighting, bar approach and TC were on PIR’s. All taps were changed to push buttons which self regulated. All carried out to offset against the stringent contract limitations with the airport. It was like stepping back in time.
Contract considerations may have been he trigger, but if so, did that not illustrate how wasteful and unnecessary the evident previous practices had been? You could consider it as actually stepping forward in time!

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Old 2nd Aug 2020, 19:59
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In the redundant half of the building was the training simulator. Don’t think the customer would be happy to know that little titbit.
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Old 3rd Aug 2020, 07:06
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Originally Posted by autothrottle View Post
Of course I do! I realise it was an error but wanted the wider readership to get a ‘fuller’ picture. I, for one , realise the enormous value of your wisdom on such matters.
Regretfully there are some in NATS senior management who consider assistants (represented by PCS) as unnecessary and would like to get rid of them all; personally I always found them essential to operational work (was one myself before I got a cadetship).
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Old 4th Aug 2020, 11:41
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I've heard the phrase "support free environment" bandied about now for several years. The premise being that the ATCO takes on the support roles during their downtime and gives the support tasking the required priority when they are busy. Probably ok when the ATCO is operating during quiet times or when traffic is straightforward, definitely not ok at any other time!

Bottom line is that a well trained and professional assistant is worth every penny. In my humble opinion anyway. Snag is the accountants only see someone who is costing them money and doesn't hold a licence therefore there must be a way of negating that cost. Cost of contract comes first, every single time.
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Old 4th Aug 2020, 14:02
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Originally Posted by escaped.atco View Post
I've heard the phrase "support free environment" bandied about now for several years. The premise being that the ATCO takes on the support roles during their downtime and gives the support tasking the required priority when they are busy. Probably ok when the ATCO is operating during quiet times or when traffic is straightforward, definitely not ok at any other time!
The trouble is, we've worked in that environment for the past 4 and 1/2 months, and it's not going to change over the winter.
What happens next summer, at this stage, is anybody's guess.


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Old 4th Aug 2020, 17:11
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Originally Posted by mike current View Post
The trouble is, we've worked in that environment for the past 4 and 1/2 months, and it's not going to change over the winter.
What happens next summer, at this stage, is anybody's guess.
This is very true and also very difficult to argue against from a financial viewpoint no matter how strongly any ATCO feels. Nobody knows what the coming months will bring, the support role has been under threat both within and without NATS for some time, this may be the opportunity management have been waiting on to reduce the headcount. All well and good until traffic (hopefully) rebounds quicker than anticipated and then suddenly the duty ATCO gets a kicking with increased workload and no-one there to help. No doubt there'll be a risk assessment done which will help immensely...
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Old 4th Aug 2020, 17:20
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....why did NATS have to introduce the Solutions model if the real NATS model was efficient and cost effective?
Originally Posted by Gonzo View Post
...Because of pressures to reduce costs from airlines and thence from airport customers. Exactly the same as the above with airlines and NERL in RP2/RP3.
.
And this shows exactly the point that there was scope to reduce costs over a dated and expensive model which was not competitive in modern day tenders. Salaries are cheaper, pensions are cheaper, expenses are cheaper, no NATSAGs to comply with, OT is cheaper etc. The old NATS model is fantastic, but very expensive in todays market, NATSAG01 being just one small example which NATS management have obviously been desperate to close that avenue. The next obvious step is pensions expense, how its done is anyones guess but I would bet its on the wish list of changes. The airlines have already been there in reducing T&Cs, ATC is only just beginning that particular journey hurried along now by the mess that the entire aviation sector finds itself in.
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Old 4th Aug 2020, 23:17
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Originally Posted by escaped.atco View Post
....why did NATS have to introduce the Solutions model if the real NATS model was efficient and cost effective?

And this shows exactly the point that there was scope to reduce costs over a dated and expensive model which was not competitive in modern day tenders. Salaries are cheaper, pensions are cheaper, expenses are cheaper, no NATSAGs to comply with, OT is cheaper etc. The old NATS model is fantastic, but very expensive in todays market, NATSAG01 being just one small example which NATS management have obviously been desperate to close that avenue. The next obvious step is pensions expense, how its done is anyones guess but I would bet its on the wish list of changes. The airlines have already been there in reducing T&Cs, ATC is only just beginning that particular journey hurried along now by the mess that the entire aviation sector finds itself in.
Solutions is used on airfields that are mostly quieter, even though they definitely have their moments and have very little fat on the contract. Personally I think they should be part of NATS, but there we go. As for salaries being higher in NATS, that is just plain wrong I'm afraid. Several of the ex NATS airfields have had pay rises over and above what the comparable NATS airfields have received. NSL has been cut back on the airfield side to the bone. As for NATSAG1, if there are any ATCO redundancies, I would guess that there may be service provision issues and these would have to be discussed with the customer. Some airfields are already at 50% of normal capacity, if not more, so some thought before any rash decisions which would affect the industry for many years would be a good idea. All my opinion of course but I do worry about someone acting in haste so we all repent at leisure.

Good night all.
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