TEN years after the 2010 strike which led to eight major Spanish airports closing, leaving over 300,000 passengers stranded, the workers responsible have been brought in front of judges in Madrid to answer for their actions.
The two-day strike began on December 3 2010 when Spanish air traffic controllers walked out on their positions in a dispute over working hours, leaving airports in chaos in the run up to Christmas and causing the Spanish military to step in and take control of the skies.
The strike was a culmination of over a year of arguments between the controllers and the Spanish government and airport authority AENA over the controllers regularly exceeding the maximum working hours thanks to the ‘December Rule’ implemented by the then Minister of Public Works, Jose Blanco.
The walkout caused a state of national alarm for 43 days afterwards and left countless passengers and airlines stranded with a total of 1,352 flights being cancelled.
Following the first trial of workers which took place in Palma, the Madrid hearings are the largest of its kind, with 133 workers in total sitting before the judges.
They are charged with ‘the crime of abandoning public service’ and causing the financial damages of the passengers that were involved.
In a private agreement with the prosecutor’s office, 126 of the 133 workers have admitted responsibility for their charges and have accepted responsibility for the financial losses of the passengers in the form of compensation of €1,000 for each of the 15,190 that filed an official complaint, plus €150 for expenses incurred.
The total compensation is expected to reach more than €17 million.