Yesterday USCA, the union representing Spanish air traffic controllers, announced that their members would not be going on strike this month despite an apparent stand off last week in which AENA said that it would not sit at the negotiating table with USCA if they did not call off the strike while the union said that it would not call off the strike if AENA did not agree to start negotiating again.
The truce between USCA and AENA comes after almost a month of pressure from the government and the tourist sector which feared the effects of a strike on tourism in Spain during the second fortnight of August. Yesterday the President of the government, Jose Luis Zapatero, asked air traffic controllers to act ‘responsibly’ adding that the threat of a strike was not ‘constructive’.
Eight days ago a large majority of the members of USCA had voted to in favour of going on strike this August if the union decided that it was necessary. The threat of the strike created a great deal of uncertainty and led to cancellations and a drop in reservations.
César Cabo, the spokesperson for USCA said yesterday that his members would not be going on strike during the month of August in order to help the tourist industry but did not rule out the possibility of his members going on strike during another month.
He said that he had received a lot of letters from companies and travellers and that he had listened to the government and had decided to withdraw the threat of a strike. But he also said that he now hoped that the government would put pressure on AENA to sit down at the negotiating table.
USCA is demanding a reduction in working hours to 1,350 hours while AENA want to increase their hours to 1,670 (+80) with an average salary of 200,000 euros.
The Chairman of AENA, Juan Ignacio Lema, has responded positively to the announcement by USCA to call off a strike and said that AENA would be ready to start negotiation at 17.
00 hours today. The main negotiating points will be the average salary of 200,000 and the maximum annual working hours of 1,750. AENA also says that it is willing to go to arbitration if negotiations fail.
Both AENA and USCA have already agreed on other measures such as the reincorporation o fair traffic controllers over the age of 57, the payment of life insurance and more information and check son the work of each control tower.