Monday, December 06, 2010

Spain needs their own Ronald Reagan

Spain is facing a devastating air controllers strike that has paralyzed all air traffic over the country. Despite being extremely well paid, earning up to a million euros annually, the controllers are upset over plans to privatize the Spanish state's airports. And the result has been chaos for anyone trying to travel over that part of Europe.
Hundreds of thousands of passengers were left stranded by the walkout, which came during one of Spain's busiest weekends for travel.
The government is talking tough about prosecuting the striking workers for breaking the law and the military is taking over Spain's air space, but there aren't enough military air traffic controllers to do the job. I well remember all the predictions of calamities when Reagan fired the striking air traffic controllers, but no such disasters developed. May Spain's government show similar backbone. Unless European governments can stand tough against such labor extortions, they will never be able to address their deep-seated economic problems.


Rick Caird said...

Spain is the largest of the European PIIGS. It is questionable if there are even enough Euros around to bail out Spain. So, Spain is taking some relatively small steps to address their debt and new borrowing requirements.

But, like France, the workers want everything to stay the same when it is clear things cannot possibly stay the same. France was successful in raising the retirement age. Now, will Spain do whatever is necessary to break the strike and privatize the airports?

A million euros a year for an ATC sounds exceptionally high. That is about $1.3 million a year.

Pat Patterson said...

It turns out, unlike the contract PATCO had in the US, the Spanish are not under any prohibition to not strike but rather could be charges with damaging national security and failure to report for work at scheduled hours. Turns out that this high figure is only for about ten of the total controllers while the rest average around $300,000 and really generous amounts of overtime.

But public reaction to the strike and regardless of the strike vote is causing many of the controllers and especially the union leadership to get happy feet and not punish members who have gone back to work. The tv and news coverage in Spain has been mostly hostile to the strikers whereas Reagan actually was always portrayed in the negative and the workers in positive terms. Didn't work.