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Three Weeks Of Air Strikes Threatened

Wednesday March 9, 2011

Three Weeks Of Air Strikes Threatened

Spanish airport workers are threatening strike action over the coming months, in reaction to government plans to privatize civil airports. A move that was itself initially mooted in reaction to previous bouts of industrial action taken by air traffic controllers in the run up to Christmas and which could affect flights to Lanzarote from the UK and Eire.

The current dispute involves some 12,500 ground staff and threatens to shut down airports across Spain and the Canaries across a set of specific dates which would create a total stoppage period of three weeks. With action penciled in for the Easter run in and dates across the busy summer season. Commencing on April 20th and continuing into May, June and July.

However the Spanish government has previously reacted in robust fashion to disruption at airports across the country. Calling in the military and declaring a state of emergency when air traffic controllers took industrial action prior to Christmas. Effectively forcing these employees to return to work.

Volume carriers such as Ryanair have predicted that the proposed action could result in the cancellation of around 300 flights if not averted, causing disruption for nearly 60,000 passengers. With Michael O'Leary calling on the EU to remove the right to strike from airport staff, stating: It's unacceptable that Spanish airport workers with their selfish strikes can hold an entire country to ransom.”

Strike action is being planned by three main unions who represent 12,500 workers employed by AENA, the Spanish airport authority. Including baggage handlers and fire crews. As they fear that pay and conditions will deteriorate should Spain's airports allow private investors to take a stake in AENA. With walkouts planned for April 20th, 21st, 24th, 25th and 30th. Whilst the government are keen to press ahead with privatisation plans in order to generate revenue that they can then use to cut their large budget deficit.

AENA president Juan Ignacio Lerma stated; “A strike is the worst scenario. We will do everything we can to avoid it. A strike would seriously damage the tourist sector at a time when the outlook for Easter and summer are very encouraging. I urge the unions to negotiate.”

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