Spanish air traffic controllers strike

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Control tower in Terminal 4 in the Madrid-Barajas airport

The Spanish air traffic controllers strike began on December 3, 2010 when most air traffic controllers in Spanish airports walked out in a coordinated wildcat strike. Following the walkout, the Spanish Government authorized the Spanish military to take over air traffic control operations in a total of eight airports, including the country's two main airports, Madrid-Barajas and Barcelona-El Prat.[1] On the morning of December 4, the government declared a 'State of Alert', ordering on the controllers back to work. Shortly after the measure was implemented, controllers started returning to work and the strike was called off.[2]

The move by controllers came after a year of dispute with the government and the Spanish airport authority Aena over working conditions, work schedules and benefits. According to some sources,[3] air traffic controllers can earn up to 350,000 euros per annum, a claim that has been hotly disputed.[4] This has meant that the controllers have not received much sympathy for their strike in Spain. On the same day as the strike, the Spanish Council of Ministers approved plans to partially privatise Aena.[1]

The use of emergency powers was the first time since the restoration of democracy in 1975 that a state of alert had been called.[3] Under the measure, controllers were escorted by armed guards and faced arrest for the crime of disobedience, stipulated in the Spanish military penal code in case of not showing up at work.[2] Some controllers reported to have been forced to work at gunpoint.[5]

The use of this measure by the Spanish government has been severely criticized by ATCEUC (Air Traffic Controllers European Unions Coordination) through a press release.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Spanish airports reopen after strike causes holiday chaos". December 4, 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-05. 
  2. ^ a b "Spanish air traffic controllers marched back to work as airports reopen". December 4, 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-05. 
  3. ^ a b "Striking Spain air traffic controllers return to work". BBC. 4 December 2010. Retrieved 6 December 2010. 
  4. ^ "Una nómina de verdad y unos bonitos turnos". Cristina Antón. 17 December 2010. Retrieved 5 January 2011. 
  5. ^ "Spain counts the costs of air controller strike". December 4, 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-05. 
  6. ^ "Spain: A Strange Vision of Social Dialogue" (PDF). ATCEUC. 4 December 2010. Retrieved 5 January 2011.