AIRPORT STRIKE BLAME GAME
National airports willing to increase wages - but it's the government's decision
CENTRAL government has been passed the hot potato of avoiding strikes at all Spanish airports - including Alicante, San Javier and Valencia - throughout this autumn.
As published in Costa Blanca News last week, trade unions representing workers for national airport company AENA and state air traffic control company Enaire have called 25 days of stoppages starting on September 15 and running until Christmas.
Unions say they had not received a reply from the government to their demands over improvements to their terms and conditions.
However on Monday, a meeting took place between representatives of the UGT, CCOO and USO unions and the general managers of AENA and Enaire, José Manuel Vargas and Angel Luis Arias respectively.
The meeting proved both sides are practically in agreement over the need to increase staff and salaries as demanded by workers.
The problem lies in the fact that 51% of shares in both companies are in the hands of the state, therefore the last word on staffing and salary modifica- tions must be given by central government, and more precisiely tax office and civil service minister Cristóbal Montoro.
State employment figures for this year set by his ministry were targeted at replacing/adding 163 workers to AENA and 39 to Enaire - a total of 202. Unions are demanding 600.
The unions also claim the extraordinary profits being obtained by both companies are not shared among workers who they claim have lost 8% of their purchasing power in recent years.
Everything now depends on a meeting between AENA and Enaire bosses with the secretary of state for transport and infrastructure, Julio GómezPomar, next Tuesday (August 29).
According to AENA, meeting both staffing and salary demands would not place a burden on public coffers, as both AENA and Enaire ' are self-funding thanks to their own income and do not depend on the national budget'.
If Sr Montoro does not budge, unions have notified 24hour strikes will take place on September 15, 17, 22, 24 and 29; October 1, 6, 11, 15, 27, 30 and 31; November 3 and 5; and De- cember 1,4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30.
The strikes will affect airport fire services, runway management personnel, security and computer services, control tower maintenance, baggage carousels and airport car park operations, along with other sectors.
Strikes would not affect air traffic controllers as they fall under a different labour agreement within Enaire.
Public works minister Iñigo de la Serna, also responsible for airports, said this week in Santander that he is 'confident that an agreement can be reached' and that the government is 'willing to listen and analyse all proposals made'.
However, he himself passed the hot potato back to his Cabinet colleague Cristóbal Montoro by pointing out that 'all negotiations must take into account civil service regulations', insisting there cannot be differences between different civil servants within the same categories.
A UGT spokesman remained upbeat over the possibility of reaching an agreement when a meeting is held with the secretary of state for transport and infrastructure on August 31.
Regarding the Prosegur security strike threat at AlicanteElche airport, workers will be meeting on Monday (August 28) to discuss their demands and present their proposals to management.
The CCOO union, which has called the employees' assembly along with UGT and CSIF, says workers will also discuss 'which measures they will take if the company fails to meet their demands'.