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Air traffic controllers cancel planned strike in August

The Air Controllers Union (USCA) and AENA resume talks on workers? labour rights, avoiding huge disruptions to air travel in peak summer season


11 August 2010 11:49 PM


On Tuesday night, the Spanish Air Controllers Union (USCA) voted in favour of cancelling industrial action. The air controllers unanimously decided to call off the strike, expected in mid-August, to protect “the tourist sector and the passengers”. The union and the company that manages Spanish airports, AENA, will, however, resume talks at a later date.
The air traffic controllers are against the sector’s new labour regulations, passed by the Spanish government. According to USCA, the new regulations require that they work more hours and rest less, thus increasing the potential risk to passengers' security. The government argues, however, that the new regulations are more coherent with those of the UK and other European countries.

Air traffic controllers voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action last week. But the prospect of air chaos in the peak summer season resulted in concerns being raised by tour operators and businesses. They complained about the economic costs of the strike to one of the most important sectors in the economy. The USCA spokesman, César Cabo, said that the union decided to call off the strike in order to demonstrate its “sensitivity to the concerns of the tourist sector and the passengers.”

The president of AENA, Juan Lema, welcomed the union’s decision to cancel the strike, because, he said, “the threat of strike action does not make negotiation possible.” Lema indicated that he hopes the talks with the union will result in “definitive” decisions being made. If the air traffic controllers do not agree a deal with AENA, however, they do not exclude the possibility of strike action in the near future, once the summer season is over.

Besides the threat of strike action, tensions between the government and the air controllers intensified recently, after politicians accused the workers of perpetrating a covert strike. Between 30% and 50% of Spanish air controllers went on sick leave, in a move that the government, on the one hand, saw as an attempt to force changes to the new regulations. Air traffic controllers, on the other hand, argued that the new working conditions caused them fatigue, stress and depression.


  • Air traffic controllers have cancelled a planned strike for August

  • Air traffic controllers have cancelled a planned strike for August