London-based International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), which represents about 4.5 million transport workers from 148 countries belonging to 681 unions, released a note telling that Tuesday's Brazilian plane crash was an avoidable tragedy. And one that could easily be repeated if as they put it "obvious and already known problems are not urgently addressed."
The ITF also backed Ifatca (International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers' Associations) and Ifalpa (International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations) in their warning that the crash proves that the problem of runway lengths must be urgently examined.
Ingo Marowsky, Secretary of the ITF's Civil Aviation Section, said: "Like everyone else who works in the industry or has ever been a passenger our hearts go out to the families of all those affected. But even while the investigation continues we must also work to make sure that this kind of tragedy does not happen again.
"We and the Brazilian trade unions have repeatedly stated that safety was being compromised. There is no better proof of this than that union representatives were meeting with management in the TAM building at the time of the crash to complain about safety."
Marowsky continued: "It gives us no pleasure to say that Latin American aviation is on the verge of a crisis. I hope that everyone concerned – governments, airlines and trade unions – will now commit themselves to an emergency meeting to address that fact and see what can be done to pull the aviation sector there back from the brink."
The ITF also backed a full investigation into the crash including, if the investigation demands it, prosecution of those who allowed the situation to degenerate to such a hazardous state.
It also called for the immediate release of the two air traffic controllers who had been courageous enough to warn that this kind of accident was likely, and for a review of industry standards, including fair competition, so as to increase safety and working standards to a decent and safe level when compared with the rest of the world.
The ITF stated that the need for a plan to improve the industry in Brazil and the Mercosur countries was predicted several years ago by trade unions, who, as long ago as 2004, helped the ITF draw up just such a plan, which sought to avoid the kind of problems that have subsequently occurred.