Spanish airport workers back deal to avert strikes

25th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Spanish airport workers have voted against strike action that would have disrupted air traffic during the busy spring and summer season, a union said Friday.

Some two-thirds of the 10,500 workers at the airport authority AENA late Thursday "supported the preliminary agreement which guarantees the economic and financial viability of the current network of airports," the CCOO union said in a statement.

"The ratification of this deal means the cancelation of the call for 22 days of strikes planned on different days between April and August."

Unions representing the airport workers on March 8 announced the 22 days of planned strikes, including during Easter week and the May bank holiday, to protest government plans announced in December to sell off 49 percent of AENA.

But AENA and trade unions signed a preliminary agreement last week that covers working conditions and guarantees that the number of jobs will be maintained.

The AENA stake sale is key to government efforts to reduce the public deficit and avoid the need for a bailout like those granted Ireland and Greece but unions feared it would lead to job losses and poorer working conditions.

The strikes would have dealt a blow to Spain's key tourism industry just as it was getting a boost in visitor numbers, in part because some sun-seekers are shunning in Egypt and Tunisia due to the anti-government uprisings there.

AENA employs 11,000 workers, including security staff and baggage handlers, at 47 Spanish airports.

Air traffic controllers in December staged a wildcat strike over pay and working conditions which left more than 200,000 passengers stranded on a holiday weekend.

The Spanish government forced the controllers to return to work by declaring a state of alert, putting the military in command and threatening jail for those who refused.

© 2011 AFP

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