Three unions representing 12,500 ground staff employed by the Spanish airports authority AENA, have just announced a series of planned strikes starting before Easter and continuing into July, leaving passengers all over Europe groaning. The dates have been chosen to cause maximum misery for short-hop travellers hoping to spend some of their hard earned money on Easter and May Bank holiday breaks and summer holidays.
Spain, a country finding it harder to shake off the recession than some of its neighbours, has seen an encouraging pick up in tourism after a two year blip, boosted by sun-seekers changing their destination from North Africa because of civil unrest. ‘A strike would seriously damage the tourist sector at a time when the outlook for Easter and summer are very encouraging. I urge the unions to negotiate’, said AENA president Juan Ignacio Lerma.
15 million of the 44million tourists who visit Spain every year are from the UK and Ireland, and Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has called on the European Commission to take action to prevent air traffic chaos this Easter, reports the Daily Mail. 'Action must be taken at EU level to ensure that the 'right to strike' is removed from essential airport services’, he said.
Hopes are high that the strike can be averted. Workers fear government plans to sell off 49% of the state-run airport operator will mean redundancies and worsened working conditions. The government has clearly guaranteed that AENA will remain state controlled and there will be no job losses.