4-Aug-2010 11:30 AM

Spanish air traffic controllers vote to strike

Spanish air traffic controllers voted on 03-Aug-2010 to commence strike action on 18-Aug-2010 or 20-Aug-2010 (Typically Spanish/Reuters/Guardian/AFP/CBC News, 03-Aug-2010). The Union of Air Traffic Controllers (USCA) is to meet on 04-Aug-2010 to decide on the duration and when the strike will commence. The union must give a 10-day warning, therefore the earliest the strike can be called would be mid-Aug-2010, the busiest time for the country's tourist industry. USCA stated 92% of the country's 2,300 controllers with a right to vote cast ballots and almost all, 98.25%, voted in favour of the strike.

The controllers, employed by AENA, are unhappy over a government decree announced recently on working conditions which would reduce rest periods and overtime benefits. In Feb-2010, the government all but eliminated overtime hours and thus cut air traffic controllers' pay which reached as much as EUR350,000 per year. Their contracts stipulated a working year of 1,000 hours, of which the majority had added a further 600 hours of overtime, paid at triple rate. Under the new rules approved by the government last week, the controllers are now obliged to work 1,600 hours at a normal wage, which still provides them with an annual salary of EUR200,000.

Spanish Government: "It is intolerable for the government to pay millionaire salaries to civil servants while seeking austerity from the rest of the Spanish people. Spain is saddled with a jobless rate of 20% as it struggles to recover from nearly two years of recession." Jose Blanco, Development Minister. Source: CBC News, 03-Aug-2010.