As reported yesterday, the Spanish state has declared an unprecedented state of alarm in order to break the surprise strike of air controllers. Spanish Minister of Interior, Pérez Rubalcaba, declared with a fascist tone: whoever challenges the state loses.
I must say that this is false and, if controllers would have dared to go a step further and assume military prison and trial, they would have easily won.
Military prison in Spain is the best way to gather sympathizers and that's why its never used, as the military is hated in this state and has very low legitimacy, as it has been supporting coups against the people for some two centuries and has not been used defensively since at least the 18th century.
In the 1980s and 1990s, we defeated the Spanish military that way: by accepting military repression. As soon as they saw we were serious they transferred all the cases to civilian authorities, eventually resulting in the end of conscription and a major weakening of the power of the Spanish Armed Forces that now have to rely on Latin American mercenaries largely (besides pay they get Spanish nationality).
However I guess that what air controllers did, pretexting health leave in order to make a surprise strike with such a massive following, was already brave enough (they can indeed be sanctioned for that). I also guess that the unexpected response by the government really got them unprepared. However we may well expect that they won't be so unprepared in the near future... maybe Christmas?
Air controllers were protesting, implicitly, against a law that broke sectorial union-companies agreements in favor of the capitalists (of course), freezing their pay and forcing them to perform many extra hours, what is something of high risk in such critically important profession. Both the law and the militarization of the repression have drawn serious criticisms by pan-European unions.
The government is keeping the state of alert for the time being and may last the whole 15 days decreed. Controllers are being forced to work under armed military vigilance and face military prison if they disobey.
Follows the press release of the European Traffic Controllers European Unions' Coordination (ATCEUC):
ATCEUC is revolted by the present situation that Spain is living and condemns the conduct of the Spanish government unworthy of a democratic European country: in its fight against its controllers, it now seems ready to put Safety at risk. How can anyone expect a controller to work safely while guarded like a prisoner by army soldiers and police ? Has the Spanish Minister of Transport lost his mind? The Spanish government as a whole shall be held responsible for all the consequences of their actions.
To militarize, to legislate new working conditions solely and differently for controllers, not taking into account any fundamental rights..... Are the Spanish controllers still Spanish citizens?
In a democratic Europe with the new Single European Sky II regulations promoting the Human Factor pillar and the social dialogue and making those mandatory, we cannot understand the way the Spanish Kingdom is acting. Nothing could justify the level of violence and the shameful methods that are being used at present.
The present situation is really sad. But it is worse when one realises it was totally predictable, hence avoidable. There has been enough time to solve the situation.
What started like a political will, a hidden privatization of the company, rather than an operational decision has ended up in a real mess.
Have not been the Spanish Air Navigation Service Provider and the Spanish Air Traffic Controllers Union negotiating for the last few months?
Where are the results?
Are the controllers the only ones responsible for the situation? The trade union and its members are condemned by the government and are punished without any form of trial.
Why are the controllers the only ones declared guilty without any form of trial? Are there any political responsibilities behind or the Spanish Government is only going to hide what they are doing under naïve and lame excuses such as the big salaries of the controllers?