SPAIN'S air traffic controllers warned yesterday of industrial action which could result in flight delays and cancellations over the Easter period.
The Professional Association of Spanish Air Controllers (APCAE) said that the next few months are going to be very hard because without a new working arrangement which allows for remuneration for extra hours the lack of the usual extra support staff at Easter time will lead to strike action. This is just the start of it, a spokesman said, adding that if APCAE members have to tolerate a situation similar to that they endured in the post Christmas period with concentrated work schedules and no back-up staff, industrial action will be pursued simply because the Ministry of Public Works has failed to come to the negotiating table.
The Spanish Airports Authority (AENA) reporting to Central Government is due to plan out a new works schedule with APCAE leading up to the Easter period.
The air traffic controllers were unequivocal in their criticism of Public Works Minister Jose Blanco, who, APCAE claim, has transformed their members into public enemy number one in Spain, and the scourge of the airline industry as a whole.
The controllers claim that AENA have made significant restructuring in the working practices of the air traffic towers around the country but that since 2006, no money has been set aside for new personnel who APCAE say are now necessary for maintaining efficiency. We're being made to do extra hours by way of obligation, said the spokesman. The government is looking for a cheap way out of its responsibility, he concluded.