Air traffic controllers’ union calls new strikes

Flickr, Daniel Rocal

USCA air traffic controllers’ union has approved plans to call two partial strikes on September 26 and October 3.

The union announced that strikes would take place on both days from 6am to 6pm to protest at Enaire’s lack of will to negotiate removal of punishments issued to controllers in 2010 when air space was closed.

The controllers will be continuing with strikes they started months ago which led to eight two- to three-hour-long strikes in June and July but were suspended in August to avoid disruption for passengers.


According to the union, Enaire has showed no will to negotiate or resolve the conflict and also appears unbothered by the effects strikes could cause to air travel passengers, leading it to feel obliged to resume the strikes.

USCA said it hoped Enaire and the government would not insist on what it called abusive minimum service demands as occurred in June and July.


  1. I don’t understand these people! They walked away from their radar consuls putting thousands of lives at risk. Most only got a reprimand., I think one was fired, a few lost a small amount of salary and now they’re striking to have the punishment removed. In my opinion these people are potential killers of innocent passengers due to what they did that day some years ago. I have no faith in the Spanish Air Traffic Control system and only breath easy after I have left the Spanish Airspace

  2. I wouldn’t go that far, but I understand your sentiment. With what these guys earn – even allowing for their rare specialism and high level of responsibility – I think they’re just being brats. Some six million people in Spain would happily earn a quarter of their salary, especially if it came with their job security and relatively comfortable working conditions. I’ve no empathy with them whatsoever: walking out of the job because their spoilt-child demands were not pandered to is forgiveable, but only just; ignoring a State of Emergency declared by the central government is just plain negligent. A month’s suspension with no pay (which they can probably budget for with their earnings) is getting off very lightly, and in their shoes most people would just keep quiet, not rock the boat while they’ve got it ‘good’, draw a line and be thankful they have a well-paid job they enjoy and are unlikely to lose.

  3. Retrain from unemployed who have been educated and who are interested then replace them, these people need to be taught lessons not bowed to, especially the unions here in Spain who seem to scare the s*** out of these boneless politicians.

  4. Unions in Spain aren’t quite the same thing as those of Thatcher’s 1980s were seen to be; here, they’re absolutely necessary. Worker exploitation is rife, and worse during the crisis because unscrupulous employers know that if their staff aren’t happy with being taken for absolute mugs, someone else certainly will be. I’ve been extremely fortunate on all bar a couple of occasions, but even in decent-sized firms I’ve seen bosses abusing their power and doing things which are blatantly illegal but whose staff are frightened to complain because they know they’ll just get the sack. And heard of women who would love to have children, but even though maternity leave is merely a few weeks here and funded by the State not the firm, they won’t because they know they risk losing their jobs. There are even legal provisions in place for covering your back in the case of an ‘unfair dismissal’: they just pay a bit extra in redundancy money. An extra half a month’s salary per year of service doesn’t help when you have a mortgage to pay and it can take years to find ANY job.
    But I agree with your comments from “Retrain…” to “…bowed to.” We’re not talking about a few office clerks on a grand a month, or bar staff working six-day weeks, who went on strike because of despotic treatment. These air-traffic controllers are paid handsomely in recognition of the high level of responsibility and skill they have, but at the end of the day, they’re paid handsomely, period. And they are extremely unlikely ever to be made redundant, or have to fight to ensure they’ll even get the minimum pension to retire on when they’re pushing 70. Between December 2010 and now, they could probably have funded full training for some unemployed people to be air-traffic controllers, and replace those spoilt brats who already have a comfortable existence but think they’re above the law. If they ruin Spain’s tourism industry with their tantrums, they’ll eventually be left without jobs anyway.

  5. I think if you looked into what it costs to employ someone here in Spain Kally you would see that it is actually the businesses that are taken advantage of but by the labour regulations, this is one of the main reasons there are so many unemployed in the country and why so many people who have left because they can’t get work.
    The reason it can take years to find a job is because of this.

    Something I cannot understand is why people think it is an employers responsibility to pay a woman to take leave to have a baby, it was not the company that this woman worked for that decided to have a baby it is the women and her partners responsibility, why should it be that of the company she works for? Small businesses struggle to keep afloat as it is, one of the reasons they employ with backhanders. As other minimum wage regulation builds you will find more small businesses closing and more people becoming unemployed, I am a great believer in employing more people for less money than employing less people for more money, that way everyone gets a little bit of the cake. There can be regulation to protect workers but at the rate it’s going there will be less and less opportunities for people to actually get work…. because it just won’t be available.

  6. Yes, the costs of employing someone in Spain (and of employing yourself, as a sole trader) are prohibitive to the point of abusive. And that’s precisely WHY there’s so much worker exploitation, and a huge ‘black’ economy. But at the same time, good working conditions and a wage you can live on mean contented, loyal staff who give a far better service than their basic job description tells them to, and they’ll actively sing the praises of their firm in public. All this leads to more satisfied and, ultimately, more customers. A living wage also means that once people have paid their bills, they can spend what’s left over in other businesses, boosting trade, and eventually creating new jobs. It’s a chain reaction: You can barely make ends meet, you stop going to restaurants, those restaurants close down because so many of their old customers are in the same boat, restaurant staff are now on the dole, where several restaurants take the same decision suppliers and contractors have to lay people off…

    As for maternity leave, I don’t know about the UK, but in Spain this is paid by the State. Your Social Security contributions via your payslip/self-employed status are like an insurance premium towards this. Maternity leave in Spain is also woefully short, with infants weaned too early and packed off to a nursery as their mums have no choice.

    We simply cannot have a society where a woman has to choose between earning money and having a baby. Having children costs more, not less. If women aren’t guaranteed a return to work after maternity leave, they’ll decide not to have children, because they really have no option. The result is a non-existent birth-rate. In Spain, natality rates are in free-fall: Many women my age are resigned to the fact they’ll never be mothers because there’s no financial help and they can’t risk the threat to their jobs, if they have them. The longer-term result is that the next generation is too small; not enough workers to generate wealth and pay taxes compared with the numbers needing more healthcare as they age and needing State pensions and so on. Shortage of doctors and nurses, leaving the health service in crisis. Shortage of everyone: scientists (no cancer research; not enough researchers), etc etc. This is the reality of a society which gives parents no support in BECOMING parents. Women need job security if they plan to have babies; imagine, you get fired for getting pregnant, suddenly you’ve no income and you’re saddled with a child to feed, and no job to go back to. Would you take a decision that left you with no income and limited chance of getting one in the future?
    Small businesses I sympathise with greatly because of how difficult it is to stay afloat here, especially if you need premises and are at the mercy of greedy, short-sighted landlords, but you can’t have it both ways: if you want to take on staff, you have to be able to afford to give them humane conditions and a wage they can live on. Large national and multi-national firms have a moral and economic duty to do far more than this, but you cannot justify near-slavery just because your business is too small to afford proper working conditions. If that’s the case, don’t take people on until you CAN afford it.
    This, though, is where government action is needed once and for all and not a day too soon: it costs employers a fortune to take on staff, and self-employed persons to BE self-employed. These costs need to be slashed, and not just for six months or the first two years in trade, but indefinitely. Once full employment in decent conditions is a reality, THEN they can start increasing costs of employing people, but right now they need to have some common sense and reduce them to the absolute bare minimum.

    As for more people on less money, etc, google the ‘Stockholm experiment’. It’s about working hours rather than pay, but it really makes one think and shows how the entire fabric of a job market needs an overhaul.


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