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Dublin: 4°C Monday 12 April 2021
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Holiday chaos avoided as Spanish airports avert strike action

The company that runs Spain’s airports reaches a preliminary agreement with trade unions to call off 22 days of strike action.

Passengers walk with luggage trolleys at Barajas Airport in Madrid during an air traffic controllers' strike in December.
Passengers walk with luggage trolleys at Barajas Airport in Madrid during an air traffic controllers' strike in December.
Image: Paul White/AP

THE PUBLIC OPERATOR of Spain’s airports has reached a preliminary agreement with trade unions to avert 22 days of strikes the unions had proposed for the country’s peak tourism seasons.

The pact will be voted on by union rank-and-file next week – and, if passed, will erase the threat of travel chaos over Easter and at busy times during the summer travel season.

Reached after 17 hours of negotiations, the agreement in principle would guarantee workers’ jobs and current working conditions once the government proceeds with plans to privatise part of the operator AENA - a key demand of unions representing AENA’s 13,000 employees.

The unions had called rolling strike days starting on April 20, including Easter Sunday, and continuing into in May, June, July and August.

“It is a good agreement. With dialogue you can get things done,” said infrastructure minister Jose Blanco, who is responsible for AENA.

The strike threat involved runway signalers, firefighters and other workers at debt-laden AENA. The government wants to sell up to 49 percent of it to cut a swollen public deficit and has gone about it through a decree that skirts parliamentary debate.

AENA’s president Juan Lema had warned a strike would take a severe toll on Spain’s key tourism sector as the country struggles to emerge from nearly two years of recession marked by a 20 percent jobless rate.

The strikes had threatened to disrupt the holiday plans of millions, and could have had an impact beyond Spain itself if the strike was joined by air-traffic controllers.

Such a strike would then block all travel from Europe to destinations like Portugal and Morocco, which cannot be accessed without travelling through Spanish airspace.

Additional reporting by PA

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Gavan Reilly

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