Air Traffic Controllers Abandon Strike
No need to cancel your holidays plans to Spain this August, or to go through the small print of your insurance policy if you've already booked! Thankfully for Spanish and foreign passengers, Spain's air traffic controllers' union (USCA) have abandoned plans to strike after signing a deal with the state-run airport management authority AENA last friday.
The deal is "satisfactory to both parties" and "guarantees the service of the controllers and industrial peace," the chief of AENA, Juan Lema, told a press conference.
Negotiations began between the two parties earlier in the year after the Spanish government moved to slash what it called the "millionaire salaries" (some controllers earn up to 800,000 GBP a year) and the "incomprehensible privileges" enjoyed by the controllers - deemed unjustifiable at a time when the country is suffering badly from the economic crisis. The government also introduced a new decree which would reduce working breaks and cut generous overtime payments, amounting to triple pay.
As a result the controllers had threatened to go on strike in the peak holiday season of August, but finally backed down in the face of concerns voiced by the air transport and tourist sectors over the effect such a move would have on the tourist industry and the Spanish economy.
The head of USCA, Camilo Cela, who represents Spain's 2,400 controllers, told the press that the deal signed by the two parties has averted any potential strike by controllers until after the holiday period at the earliest. Meanwhile a USCA spokesman said the accord would ease the controllers' working hours in order to "reconcile work and family life."