On 18-03-2010, in The tower with a soul, by lajos
Parties then and now
As I said earlier, the tower was standing in the middle of the prairie. This was both an advantage and a disadvantage. Very little of the dirt and mud throwing that went on in the main building actually reached the tower. At the same time most decisions were made without our involvement, we had practically no chance to influence our own fate. You will also remember that the tower had no appointed boss and some of the division heads just used their positions to climb higher and avoid ever having to come back to the tower. But there were other colleagues also who worked hard to attain prominence via ways other than their professional performance. They were focusing on a party career…
They had two great ways of avoiding work, the Communist Youth Federation (KISZ) and the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party (MSZMP). Both organizations had their offices in the main building and they held their meetings during working hours, mainly at times of highest traffic… Members used the services of Sanyika (you remember him? Sanyika with the Barkas body…) to ride to the main building and they attended the meetings as long as it took for the busiest traffic to subside. Then they returned, exhausted and worked without much enthusiasm until it was time to go home. The saying “errors will only be made by those actually working” had its origins in this strange setup. Since those party members always managed to abstain from heavy work, it was us who were left to fill in for them that made the smaller and bigger mistakes that are unavoidable even at the best of times. Guess who were eventually designated as poor controllers in the eyes of top management?
Back then the whole airport was just one company, the Air Traffic and Airport Administration (LRI). They were responsible for everything from running the airport to providing air traffic services. It was a huge undertaking and there were big differences between the various work areas and their responsibilities. As controllers, we were getting more and more curious about why the rest of the airport workforce hated us so much. Was this because our salaries were higher? You bet! Of course when we talked to them and mentioned that they were also welcome to join us as controllers, all they had to do was finish a four year course, somehow they did not show much enthusiasm. But behind our backs they continued the mud throwing… It is one of the less fortunate traits of Hungarians… instead of looking at the value of one’s own work, everyone judges everyone else and tries to hurt them where they can. Another unlucky trait is the tendency to suck up to others in the hope of getting ahead with that instead of good work.
These traits flourished under the party rule. But this was exactly what we ended in 1989 when we voted to banish the party from the workplace. Well, the party did leave but the members remained. When a little later Hungary became a republic with many parties, these “members” signed up with whichever new party was closest to their hearts. For a few years they were active only outside the airport, but then slowly they started to trickle back to the shop floor again. It was amazing to see how easily some people made a 180 degree turn and started putting down the “communists” when under the old regime they themselves were always nearest to the fire.
For others, it was the trade unions that provided the new playing ground. At first there was only one new union after the change of political system, the Air Traffic Controllers’ Independent Union (LIFSZ). They counted among their members the air traffic controllers as well as other experts closely related to controllers, like those in the ATS Reporting Office. But politics made sure that the union was first divided then broken up into many parts. We used to say that aviation was a group activity… well, by now nothing is left of this. The representation of our interests has fallen to pieces and what is left is the same as in the rest of the country. Dividing is more important than striving for the common goals.
Unfortunately this attitude has become so much a part and parcel of most people’s lives that we can hope for one thing only. The next generation will see where hatred leads and they will rebuild the country from the ashes and with it the airport also.