OVER 1'800 air traffic controllers currently employed at Spain's airports are to vote today on whether or not they will take strike action over laws passed by Central Government last Friday controlling working practices and rest periods.

Daniel Zamit, spokesman for the largest controllers' union USCA, said that the new legislation demands a mandatory rest period of 30 minutes for every 2 hours of work. He said the number of working hours allowed monthly has been set at 200 with a total rest period of 184 hours .

Zamit, speaking for 95 percent of the 2'400 controllers currently licensed with the Spanish Airports Authority (AENA), said that the “one way” decision made by Public Works Minister, José Blanco over the controllers working conditions had been viewed by union members as a sign that Central Government is “not willing to negotiate” over the contract package.

Zamit claimed that faced with such ill will, his union felt that there was no other solution but to “let the public understand the conditions under which we are working.” He said that the Ministry's action of imposing legislation by force when it should have been reached through negotiation, had converted industrial contract law into a “pantomime.” Zamit said that so far, 200 of USCA members had asked for their contracts to be cancelled due to the “abusive” nature of conditions which the government were imposing.

He argued that he too would have to consider whether he could go on working within restrictions which forced him to ensure the safety of aircraft during “so many hours, with so little rest.” USCA are claiming that prior to the new legislation being imposed, AENA had not carried out the necessary technical studies on working practices which are required by international law.

They (AENA) haven't done their homework, said Zamit, whereas the corresponding authorities carried it out in the United Kingdom. The government in Spain, said the spokesman, is breaking international law, “and still they have the nerve to ask the controllers why they are all going off sick.”


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