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Mr Grumpy v the Spanish Unions

By Mr Grumpy - Fri 13th Jan 2012

I had this really great idea for a blog a few weeks back. All lofty high-brow stuff that would need loads of research and take ages to write and make me look really knowledgeable and stuff.

The subject was going to be about the vast number of strikes that have taken place in Spain over recent years, but to be honest, I lost count (and interest) when I got as far as February 2010 and my research ground to a pitiful halt.

As such, given my inability to finish anything requiring any persistence or hard work, I was left with 2 choices : Leave the idea well alone and blog about my usual guff instead, or continue the blog without the credible proof and statistics and basically making stuff up as I go along and ranting in my usual disjointed manner. I chose the latter ...

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Treason : " a violation of allegiance to one's sovereign or to one's state "

Without getting all boring and stuff, even those with little interest in Spain are aware that the country currently has one of the worst rates of unemployment in Europe - even the Western world - which is twice as bad when looking at the under 25 age group.

So, with this in mind (or at least in my naive and obviously totally unknowledgeable opinion) I would have thought that anybody actually being fortunate enough to actually have a legal position of employment at this moment in time would consider themselves to be in a lucky position.

But it seems that the opposite is actually the case and two things make by blood boil here :

Traitor : " person who commits treason by betraying his or her country."

Firstly, that since the crash of the property market at the end of 2007 (when Spain's Travel and Tourism numbers reached record highs and have since been out of reach) the importance of other sectors (such as T&T) have become all the more important in providing sources of employment, and to the wider economy as a whole.

Secondly, that anyone fortunate enough to have a legal and reasonably well paid contract of employment should A.) Consider themselves very fortunate in a time of almost 23% levels of unemployment - and rising, and B.) Perhaps consider doing all that they could to both safeguard their position and ensure that they did all that they could to ensure that they did their part to get the country back on it's feet again.

Blackmail : " any payment extorted by intimidation, as by threats of injurious revelations or accusations."

Following my half-hearted attempts at doing something a purist may call research, and shortly before abandoning the idea at the first hurdle, a few nuggets of information still stick in my mind...

In the last 12 months (give or take) alone, there have been many strikes - too many to list here - but the notable ones are these :

Air Traffic Controller strike : Dec 2010 This 'strike' arose when all of Spain's ATC's called in sick on the same day. As opposed to taking 'legal' strike action they petulantly struck out over 'working conditions' - meaning that they were upset that their lucrative overtime package had been cut. The ATC's as a whole were revealed to have an average yearly salary in excess of 200'000 Euros - 40% more than their counterparts in the rest of Europe - and allowed to retire at 57, as opposed to 67 like the rest of Spanish workers.

The teddy was out of cot due to plans to limit their overtime (not basic salary) and cap the number of hours that they could work (not force them to work more).

The strike caused to closure of Spanish airspace for 2 days and resulted in the military needing to assume control of all control Towers.

This caused the cancellation of thousands of flights at the busiest weekend for travel in the Spanish calendar year - the December Bank Holiday (Meaning an unrecoverable loss of millions of euros in revenues for the tourism industry) and a lengthy and expensive compensation claim by passengers and prosecution case against the ATC's - all of which the tax payer must fork out for.

Pilots Strikes : Too numerous to mention : Pilots working for Air Europa took strike action forcing a 40% reduction of all services on every Monday and Thursday since the start of September until the end of December over protest against Possible jobs cuts (Note: NOT actual job cuts : Isn't this as good way in bringing the affirmative about ?)

Pilots working for Iberia also held 4 strike dates over the bust Christmas Holiday period, designed to cause maximum disruption at a time when many people obviously want to fly somewhere. Again, this action caused just short of 500 flight cancellations and was due to 'fears about job losses'.

The lastest Strike on Weds 11th Jan marked the 24th time that Pilots alone (not baggage handlers, not groundc crew, not cabin attendants...) had taken action in 35 years !

(Anybody else see the irony here that a lack of actually being able to fly will lead to a drop in demand for flight, which will then lead to inevitable job losses ...?

Madrid Metro Strikes : Aug 2011 The City of Madrid worked hard to secure the hosting of the Catholic Church World Youth Day, expected to result in Hundreds of Thousands of visitors to the capital from all around the word. People spending much needed money in the hospitality sector. So the Metro workers decided to completely close down over 'salary negotiations'.

Sabotage : " any underhand interference with production, work, etc., in a plant, factory, etc., as by enemy agents during wartime or by employees during a trade dispute. "

The tourist industry is vitally important to Spain and 2010 / 2011 through enough challenges as the sector with things like Volcanic eruptions or snow preventing arrivals from Northern Europe. So when a gift horse comes along like the Arab Spring making Spain seem more favourable as a holiday destination once again, the last thing we need is some Union Knobhead messing things up.

Hopefully the new Government will grow a pair of 'Cojones' and stand up to these people, They need to remember that there are around 4.85 million people out there that will gladly do their job for them if they don't want to do it.

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