CHARGES of sedition have been brought against dozens of air traffic controllers who went on a wildcat strike at Palma airport. Together with compatriots across eight airports, including Menorca and Ibiza, they brought Spanish airspace to a standstill in December 2010, forcing the declaration of a state of emergency.
After years of investigation and deliberation judges have now accused 84 air traffic controllers from across the Balearics of sedition, following through on dramatic threats at the time to punish the strikers under the military penal code.
The coordinated walkout happened without authorisation from the unions and came after a year of tense disputes and negotiations. Hundreds of strikers called in sick en masse and the industrial action affected more than 330,000 international passengers in Spain, grounding all flights in and out the country.
Soldiers were even drafted in to help, barking instructions at the controllers who had showed up for work and ensuring the situation didn’t deteriorate further.
It was a hugely embarrassing incident for the Spanish government which absorbed international media attention with stories of people fearing they wouldn’t make it home for Christmas. The government at the time vowed to severely punish the strikers and they might now face serious jail time if convicted.