This comes at a time that Prospect members have had to put up with a pay freeze for 2010. The union’s Aviation Officer, Garry Graham, said: “Members are astounded at this decision by the national air traffic provider.
“Management continue to lecture staff on the need to reduce costs and show restraint over pay, while the company pays out significant sums of money in dividends.
“This short-sighted dividend policy seems to have little to do with the long-term interest of UK air traffic control, stability and service delivery, and more to do with the short-term interests of those who seek to maximise profits from a potential sale.
“Instead of paying out inflated dividends NATS should firstly recognise and reward the hard-working and professional staff who help make UK airspace some of the safest in the world.”
Plans by the government to sell off its interest in NATS were revealed in June’s emergency budget.
The Government holds a 49% share in NATS and will receive £9.8m in dividends; the Airline Group – a consortium of airlines – has a 42% holding and will receive £8.4m; BAA has a 4% shareholding and stands to gain £0.8m. The remaining 5% of shares are held by NATS employees, who will receive £1m. That means individuals stand to gain a maximum of just £276.
The NATS dividend decision follows the payment of a £3.2m package to departing chief executives Paul Barron and Lawrence Hoskins earlier this year.