Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Not enough cash

Maggie is due to fly to Blighty tomorrow. She was concerned that the weather may be a problem but no, it's the air traffic controllers.

For the past year the controllers have been a bit disgruntled. Some of them top out a salary of around 900,000€ a year but, as their Union points out, at least half of them only earn around 200,000€ a year. The Government though thought this was a tad too much, especially in light of the proposed privitization of the airports, so they introduced new working conditions which basically set the working hours, before overtime, at 1670 hours per year.

So today, the controllers took their revenge. Lots of them didn't turn up for work and Spanish airspace has been closed down. The timing was perfect, it's a long bank holiday weekend here stretching through till Wednesday so the airports were busy. They are now full of stranded passengers.

The Interior Minister has just been on telly threatening to send in military controllers and the Union has recommended to its members that they turn up for work at 10 this evening but whether they will, whether they'll be able to clear the backlog etc., remains moot.

Poor old Maggie, she's been looking forward to this trip for ages. Fingers crossed.

Saturday update. The flight is cancelled and Maggie can't go to the UK as she planned. As I type she is checking her options for other flights. I feel so sorry for her. She was so looking forward to it.

Meanwhile the Government has declared a State of Alarm (the first time this has happened in Spain since the return to democracy in the 1970s) and is threatening the controllers with legal proceeedings which could lead to gaol terms. Military controllers have also been put into the air traffic control centres and Air Force officers have taken over control of the majority of the flight control centres. Some of the controllers have turned up for work as usual but, apparently, it's very piecemeal.

There was a little note that the controllers are meeting in a motel just outside Madrid and that other guests have been giving them a really tough time.

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