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Air traffic controllers striking again

The Spanish air traffic controllers union USCA are initiating new strikes on Saturday, September 26th and Saturday the 3rd of October.


Air traffic controller. Photo: Mark Brouwer (Wikimedia).

This time they’re going to strike between 6 am and 6 pm. The earlier strikes in June and July were much shorter and only lasted two to three hours in the morning and evening. They did not strike in August because they did not want to disturb the busiest tourist month, as they said “not to spoil anyone’s holiday.”

The earlier strikes have not disrupted flight traffic significantly, since it has maintained a statutory minimum traffic so that 70% of the air traffic went on as normal. This is the union’s justification for that the new strikes will last much longer.

Air traffic controllers have staged several protests during the past year as a result of 61 air traffic controllers being rebuked for a campaign in December 2010 that led to a closure of the Spanish airspace. The prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero announced when martial law and called in the military. But the 61 air traffic controllers in Barcelona defied military orders and it ended up with salary deductions for the strikers. Marco Antonio Enríquez, air traffic controller in Santiago de Compostela leaving the control tower completely unmanned, allowing airspace had to be closed completely, and he was fired for this.

The union representatives require that Enriquez gets his job back, and that the others get back the salary which they lost when they were suspended for a month. But the strikers have very little sympathy from the audience since  their wages are five times higher than the average salary in Spain and their jobs are absolutely secure.