Tenerife airports in chaos

The main news headlines this weekend is the unannounced wildcat strike by Spanish Air Controllers.  While it involves all of Spain, if I am honest, the only place that concerns me is here in Tenerife and the affect it is likely to have on the livelihood of thousands of residents who rely on the tourist trade.

I don’t understand the Controllers logic. They have chosen a major Spanish holiday to try to force employers into giving them their own way.  Do they really expect support?  The CCOO, the largest union in Spain has accused them of ‘holding citizens hostage’.  Approximately 330,000 tourists are affected and can either not get back to their homes, jobs or their hard-earned holiday destination.   The hotels on the island have to accommodate and feed hundreds of holidaymakers while their new business is unable to reach them.  It seems the business or at least the travel companies, for those who used them, are losing all ways.

This is not the first time the air traffic controllers have done this, and I am not sure what the reasons are, they seem to change each time I look at the local papers.  I believe they are upset about partial privatisation of the service and their response was to take time away from work, claiming to be sick.  It seems that this latest strike is in protest at requirements for independent doctors to verify that sickness as genuine and not part of the widespread abuse of sick leave entitlements. In my book if you are sick you are sick so to strike over it shows what these people are really up to, nothing more than blackmail and bullying.

Back in August, the controllers were again holding travellers to ransom when the Spanish government announced its austerity programme requiring freezing or cutting salaries.  The average wage for an Air Traffic Controller is €350,000 but the top earners get €900,000.  By anyone’s standards, that is not peanuts and particularly for those controllers here in Tenerife.  They  should think themselves lucky to have a decent job on good money when the average person is existing on €5 an hour for working 60 hours.

I have no sympathy and I am glad to see the Government have brought in the military, things will get back to normal but it will take time.  I hope ANEA stand their ground, do as they say and punish those who strike with a fine of 8-12 months pay.  I would like to think that the controllers are punished further.  Spain’s deputy prime minister, warned: “If a controller does not show up to his work place he will be placed immediately in custody accused of a crime which could mean serious prison sentences” but I am sure it will never happen.

In the meantime, the Tenerife Cabildo has activated its emergency plan and anyone concerned should ring 00800 100 101 00.  Passengers can speak to advisers in English, German, French and Spanish. The number will be operating while the Emergency Plan is running. The line will be open between 9am to 9pm.


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