Holidaymakers from the UK and other northern European nations will have their travel plans disrupted by striking air traffic controllers in Spain next month. The union USCA represents the bulk of the controllers and it has called for work stoppages on the 8, 10, 12 and 14 of June.
The stoppages are only for two-hours at a time and will take place twice a day on each of the four days, yet the carry-over of delayed departures and arrivals is set to cause misery and frayed tempers for holidaymakers. The stoppages are scheduled for 10:00 to 12:00 and 18:00 to 20:00 on the four days.
The industrial action is the end result of a similar action by air traffic controllers in Barcelona back in 2010. In December of that year, 61 controllers called in sick in a mass protest over their duty hours and working conditions.
A sympathy strike by air-traffic controllers in other parts of the country effectively shut down Spanish air-space and the government was then forced to draught military personnel in as a stopgap measure. The 61 Barcelona controllers were subsequently fined one month’s salary for their action.
At a USCA (La Union Sindical de Controladores Aereos) meeting staged in Madrid three days ago, 81 per cent of its members gave a thumbs up to the strike action. Spokesperson Beatriz Jerez said the shutdown of air-space in 2010 was the fault of the Spanish Airports Authority and had nothing to with Barcelona’s traffic controllers.