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Air Traffic Controllers vote to take action in August

Wed 4th Aug 2010

Spanish Air Traffic Controllers voted yesterday to commence strike action some time after August 15th, but failed to decide on an exact date at the moment.

Industrial action over a period of 3 days has been planned and is expected to start on either the 18th or the 20th of August. The union is due to meet again today to decide on the exact dates.

Union sources say that 92% of the 98% of the workers who cast their vote, voted in favour of strike action.

The workers are unhappy at their working conditions in the wake of a 40% cut in their salaries, which has reduced the average salary to 200,000 € a year, and say the strike is needed in the face of the inability shown by the Minster for Development, José Blanco, to negotiate with them. They say he has responded to their unknown requests with Decrees which are still to be published in the Official State Bulletin, and that they hope that sensitivity will return to the Ministry and to the AENA, Spanish Airports Authority, so negotiations can take place and the strike action avoided.

The latest Decree from the Minister is based upon British regulations, which says that controllers can rest for 30 minutes every two hours, and that they cannot work more than 50 hours a week because of the dangers of fatigue. This would effectively put an end to the lucrative overtime that many of the controllers have been enjoying.

The Minister said earlier that in such circumstances he would draft in military controllers, an idea which the civil workers say is dangerous and could lead to an accident. José Blanco has however now also indicated that he is prepared to talk about ‘any subject', and also that if the strike action is legal, then he will not use the military controllers.

Both airlines and businessmen in the tourist sector have voiced concerns at what a strike could do at the height of the summer season, even if the controllers have said they have no intentions not to comply with Government enforced ‘minimum services'.

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