Airport workers' unions have given the government extra time to negotiate salary and staff increases before officially confirming the series of 25 strikes which are due to start at all Spanish airports on 15 September.
The UGT, CC OO and USO unions say they will wait until after the meeting between the airport authority Aena and the Ministry of Transport takes place on Thursday 7 September before deciding whether to go ahead with the strikes. They have already described the meeting which took place on Tuesday with the minister for Infrastructure, Julio Gómez-Pomar, and the president of the airport authority, José Manuel Vargas, as positive, and say they are prepared to give the relevant organisations the chance to negotiate.
The decision to wait is in response to a request by the minister, who said more time was needed to examine the workers’ demands. However, if the unions feel that not enough progress is made at next week’s meeting, they will go ahead with the strike action, which is due to continue until the end of the year and will affect the Christmas holidays.
The minister for Transport, Íñigo de la Serna, sees the unions’ decision to wait as very positive. “This will mean we can continue to talk and negotiate calmly. I am sure we will be able to reach an agreement in the near future,” he said .
The employees of Aena and Enaire, the air traffic control company, are demanding 450 additional staff for Aena and 250 more for Enaire. So far, the response from the authorities has been that more employees will be taken on, but no numbers have been confirmed.
The question of salaries will be more complicated to resolve. The workers want a rise which will compensate them for the eight per cent purchasing power they say they have lost since 2010, but the authorities say this has to be decided by the government’s finance ministry because airport workers are counted as public employees and one sector cannot be paid more than the others.
So far nobody from the ministry for Finance has attended any meetings, and it is not yet known whether they will do so on Thursday. The unions consider this to be an obstacle to making progress in the talks.