5 Aug, 2010 @ 14:11
1 min read

Spanish air strike could affect millions

By Wendy Williams

UP to two million passengers – including around 300,000 British holidaymakers – are facing travel chaos if air traffic controllers go ahead with a threatened strike in Spain.

The controllers are due to strike after their employment contracts were changed, increasing their working hours and cutting back on breaks.

In a ballot held this week, over 90 per cent voted in favour of industrial action.

The exact dates of the strike are yet to be confirmed but it is likely it will take place on Wednesday August 18, for at least three days.

This latest action comes after the Spanish government cut wages by 40 per cent in February this year, when it was revealed some controllers were earning as much as 850,000 euros.

In comparison, air traffic controllers in the UK only earn 65-90,000 euros a year.

According to transport minister José Blanco, air traffic controllers have long enjoyed “a privileged position” and the strike “lacked justification”.

The government even threatened to bring in the military if the strike takes place.

But, it comes at the height of Spain’s summer tourism season leaving up to two million passengers facing delays, cancellations or the possibility of being stranded at home or in Spain.

For a country where the tourism industry accounts for 11 per cent of the economy, this could have big economic repercussions.

If the strike goes ahead, it will be the first legal stoppage the industry in Spain has seen.

Jon Clarke (Publisher & Editor)

Jon Clarke is a Londoner who worked at the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday as an investigative journalist before moving permanently to Spain in 2003 where he helped set up the Olive Press. He is the author of three books; Costa Killer, Dining Secrets of Andalucia and My Search for Madeleine.

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  1. At time when Spain is effectively ‘on its knees’ economically, what a clever idea for the air traffic controllers to go on strike!

    The country, especially here on the Costas, depends on tourism, and inbound/outbound visitors to contribute to the economy. After the ‘ash cloud’ earlier in the year, we need to grab hold of every air passenger/tourist that we can get.

    Presumably these very same ATC’s will go on strike again when they lose their jobs because tourists have decided either to stay at home or go elsewhere.

  2. i have read this article and i, too, see the motivation of the spanish workers but fail to see the improtance of the strike. the workers are still earning a high wage that is equal to those of our country. due to this particular reason, and the fact that there is poor justification for an act that would have disasterous concequences for millions of tourist that as stated contribute to 11 per cent of the spanish economy, i would therefore support the possible military involvment and believe it to be the most beneficial method to solve the chaos that would be the result of such a pointless strike.

  3. preferably yes. the canary islands are owned by spain. even though the routes from the uk do not pass spain to get to the canaries, they directly go south from the uk and over the atlantic; the canary islands are still within the spanish air. my family and friends are concerned too- we are going to fuerteventura within the next two weeks, the date of when this so called ‘strike’ is supposedly going to happen. all we can do is wait and see if it goes ahead. i agree with adrian, spain’s suffering worse due to economical issues and they need as many travellers & tourists they can grab.

  4. The whole thing is pathetic. How these ATC’s were allowed to have such huge wages in the first place is the real problem here. My girlfriend works for the Spanish police and also had to take a pay cut, like the rest of the Spanish workers, yet these ATC’s say they work under excessive stress. Should the government bow down and meet their demands, then this will cause uproar and general strike action in Spain. The ATC’s don’t have a clue what stress is. I am supposed to be flying out to Barcelona with my children on the 22nd, so that is looking increasingly unlikely. 200k a year is an absolute joke. If it was up to me right now, I would slash their pay yet again to around 70k. Let them strike. If they want 250k, let them try to find something that will get them that kind of money. The government should spend the other 150k plus on training new people and bringing them in to do the job for around 60k – 70k. I am sure people would jump at the chance. The governmant should not put themselves in the position to be held to ransom by anybody. They only have themselves to blame

  5. I’m getting married in Spain on the 25th August. We are due to fly out on the 20th on the last day of the strikes. What are the chances of this strike being called off? If anything we would like to pre-empt the strike and change our flights to the 17th. To say the least we are a bit concerned.

  6. I hope the drop from such massive salaries to the benefit payments in Spain isn’t a great one…because if this strike goes ahead then many hard working families, like mine,that have saved for their annual sunshine break,will drop Spain from their list of destinations…. & many of the ATC’s will not be needed….with Turkey,Morocco,Tunisia & Egypt offering great value for money…this is commercial suicide….my holiday looks ready to be ruined…but enjoy your 3 days off!!!
    Sadly it proves that the ATC’s have lost touch with ordinary working people,but then again they can afford to!!!

  7. The flight industry is an industry that’s well known for its low salaries and ecological damage. I’m planning to go on holiday, too and might well be affected by this strike, but I have full understanding for it to go ahead. I have to say that I find it rather concerning that people take this luxury of flying anywhere they want to, to low fares as FAR to granted! If you are concerned about your sunbath or marriage, think about the families that are behind the people who work there. Workers are much too dependent on their employees these days and strikes are still the only way to get any results. With the state of the economy in Spain you can expect this strike to be limited anyway. Military intervention for your benefits is already under way.

  8. PAul

    Whilst I agree with your sentiments, the real problem is the strength of the employment contracts these guys will have and the stubborness and sheer short sighted stupidity of the unions (whose actions imo are actually threatening the stability of the eurozone economy); and the near impossibility of changing them, at least while Zappotero Marx is in control. So just booting them out and retraining some others on a lower wage, or even getting them to accept a settlement that gives them a real wage of at least DOUBLE their UK counterparts, is not an option at this moment.

  9. Well all I can say is I wish I could earn that sort of money a year after their 40% cut!!!!.
    If the strike goes ahead, it looks like my first family holiday for 5 years will be cancelled, we are due to fly out on the 19th, right in the middle of the strike!!!!.
    This will be so damaging to the tourism in spain, do they really have to strike?, could they just not sit down and sort it out without jumping in with both feet first, and not getting anything in return!!!! Other than causing chaos to familys who have been saving all year for a holiday, and might not now get one.

  10. I work making parts for aircraft and don’t earn a tenth off what ATC’S earn.We save up all year to go on holiday and now with greedy people whom don’t even bother about their own country men decide to call a strike so people such as myself can’t have a holiday.Thanks for that.

  11. cant believe this due to fly on the 20th a day before it should end. first holiday im hopefully going to go on in 3 years so hoping there is no strikes. about the military whats the point of using it as a threat you could always say that if you commence witht he strike go ahead no action from us will be taken and then just bring in the military to do the jobs lol!

  12. Just read this page,
    really worried about the strike action.!!!
    does anyone know if this is including the island of Mallorca???? Am supposed to be flying out on the 17th which i know is before strike is proposed, but some of my family are also due to fly on the 19th to Mallorca,
    If anyone knows anything more, would be great help!!!

  13. Think ths is rediculus! Talk about a poor salary. Wish i got paid that much. Due to fly out on the 11th aug. Do you think the strikes will effect as early as that?

  14. I am at a loss to see why the Spanish Air control can even contemplate a strike considering all the money lost by the airlines due to stikes, ash clouds etc. Surely they can see that people will not be there spending any money in their country should this strike go ahead. Or do they just not care??? We have not had a holiday for 3 years and this has put a real dampner on it. We should be flying Friday 20th????? They are earning a lot more that their counterparts in Britain are. BE THANKFUL!!!!!

  15. I am flying to fuerteventura on the 30th August and friends flying out on the 29th August. What are the chances of this effecting this date?. If this does effect my flight then i too will defo not be going back to spain again. This is our first family holiday for 3 years and have saved and worked 60hrs a week leading up to this holiday for my family to enjoy this holiday. Then again if i had the pay these people were getting(compared to the same job in the uk). i could have this holiday every few months

  16. It was on Spanish TV last night and is on some websites today. An official announcement will be made later today after the meeting, but they have said they would not strike. Not in August anyway. Many travel agencies cancelled the flights in the build up to this, so my travel plans have been scuppered anyway. Expect travel prices to soar from travel agencies though as everyone makes last minute bookings

  17. I hope you have a great holiday David. Where about in Spain are you headed?
    I was due to fly out on the 22nd with the kids to see my gf in Barcelona, but the prices have now doubled to almost 8000 Euro’s for what I had planned. It looks like I may have to fly alone and take the kids at another time.
    There will still be repurcussions over it all though, as the Spanish workers who also took a pay cut have voted for a general strike on the 29th of September. My gf works for the forensic department in the police force and one of the last things she had to do was recover body parts after a train collided with a group of people, killing 13 of them. She had to take a pay cut without complaint, yet the ATC’s say their job brings too much stress. I know which job I would rather do

  18. We are heading down to Costa Del Sol to get married, we have 80 guests coming out aswell between the 18th and the 23rd August for the wedding on the 25th. I’m sorry to hear about your trip it’s always the same the passengers get held to ransom and end up paying over the odds. You would like to think that with Spain being on it’s knees economically that they would be trying to encourage tourism to get money into the country.

    Apparently the spanish Air Traffic controllers are some of the best paid in Europe even here in Ireland we’ve all had to take pay cuts and there is nothing we can do about it just like your girlfriend we just hope that pay cuts will be reversed once things pick up.

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