Strike of air traffic controllers in Spain continues in April

by Lorraine Williamson
air traffic controllers

MADRID – Spanish air traffic controllers will continue their strike at 16 airports across the country in April. This has been announced by the air traffic controllers union USCA. 

USCA criticises “the employer’s refusal to negotiate”. Via the Twitter account, the union stated that despite the boycott of the strike by the Ministry of Transport and Mobility, a new strike schedule has been announced for April. Air traffic controllers have been on strike since January 30. 

When do air traffic controllers strike? 

The new strike days are every Thursday and Sunday of the month (13, 16, 20, 23, 27 and 30). They will continue to affect the following16 national airports;

  • A Coruña
  • Alicante-Elche
  • Castellón
  • Cuatro Vientos
  • El Hierro
  • Fuerteventura
  • Ibiza
  • Jerez
  • Lanzarote
  • La Palma
  • Lleida
  • Murcia
  • Sabadell
  • Seville
  • Valencia
  • Vigo

A total of 162 workers have been called to join the strike. 

In the Canary Islands, work stoppages are from 07.00 am to 09.00 am, while in the Peninsula and the Balearic Islands, they are from 3.00 pm to 5.00 pm. 

Against privatisation of the control towers 

The union and the air traffic controllers it represents are angry about the imminent privatisation of the control towers at the airports mentioned above. Union sources have repeated that the strike is due to the attitude of the employer Saerco. It appears as USCA has assured, to be “against reaching any kind of agreement”. That has hampered proposals for a new agreement from the outset. 

ASSSA - health insurance in Spain

There is also criticism that the system “cannot operate on the efforts of tired staff and with continued cutbacks” on past consolidated entitlements. 

Why does Spain want to privatise the towers? 

Until 2010, the public company AENA was the only entity authorised to deal with the control towers. However, this changed with the reform by the second government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, with José Blanco in charge of the Ministry of Public Works. 

This government wanted to privatise the air control service in the towers of some airports. A law came into effect in April that allowed auditing services to be performed by “new certified providers” outside the public company AENA. 

That law argued that this change was necessary for the “sustainability” of the system and that by introducing competition to the sector there would be “an improvement in technical and economic conditions” in the provision of services. In addition, the argument was that with liberalisation the government would comply with European regulations. The Single European Sky regulations established the need to “allow other certified providers” to provide service. 

Related post: Air traffic controllers in Spain announce strike 

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