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Air Traffic Controllers prior to 1978 were unhappy with their wages and general working conditions. Given the fact that there was no monitoring agency working on their behalf, they decided to attack these problems collectively. This even though the response at times, from some staff members, was not encouraging.
A meeting was convened in mid to late 1977 and in attendance were most of the persons who had signed the proposal. At this meeting, a steering committee was formed and Patrick Stern, then a supervisor at the Kingston Air Traffic Control Center, was selected to chair the committee. The original name chosen for the Association was the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Association.


The Jamaica Air Traffic Controllers Association (JATCA), was created in 1978 with the aim that Jamaica Air Traffic Controllers could have some representation in bringing their concerns forward to management and also that they could have their own negotiating team whenever they were ready to lobby for wage increases. The first move made was to post notices to the staff advising them of the proposal to start an Association and asked interested persons to indicate their agreement.

Following this, the group attempted to write the constitution of the Association and had to seek the assistance of Roy Morrison, a delegate from an established Workers Union at the time. The first draft was submitted to the committee members at a meeting, held at the residence of Patrick Stern, which was later designated as the registered office of the Association.

After several meetings of the committee, a final draft was agreed on. During the course of one of these meetings, the name of the association was changed as the original name implied that only controllers were eligible to join, but the Association sought to serve all Air Traffic Services workers including the ATC assistants at the time. On April 04, 1978, the JAMAICA AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS ASSOCIATION (JATCA) was established.

On achieving this milestone, one of the Association's first acts was to file a claim with the government to improve wages and working conditions. The first meeting was held on June 5, 1978. JATCA then set as one of its main objectives, the removal of the profession from the Jamaica Civil Service (under the Civil Aviation Department- CAD) and establish a private entity to manage the affairs of the Air Traffic Controllers.

Although the ultimate goal of going private has not been achieved, the Civil Aviation Department was dissolved and a new entity, a statutory organization - the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) - was established. This transition marked a significant improvement in the welfare of Air Traffic Controllers.

JATCA is a recognised negotiating body in Jamaica and have acquired the membership of over 90% of all Air Traffic Controllers in Jamaica. The Association also extends associate membership to individuals that are closely affiliated with controllers, namely Flight Data Processors (FDPs).

The JATCA today, is still however fighting for improved benefits and due recognition of controllers in the country; while seeking to maintain a high standard of air traffic control that will ensure the safety of the flying public. It represents over ninety percent (90%) of the Air Traffic Controllers in Jamaica and is a democratic organization that is responsible for ensuring the social, economic and professional welfare of its members.

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