Games without Frontiers - Airport Strikes

It's a Fokker
by Wrinkled Weasel

Yet again the holiday plans of thousands are in jepoardy due to threatened strikes by ground workers in Spanish Airports. Workers at the state-owned company Aena are planning strikes set to take place over several months, timed to coincide with high volume travel dates, including Easter and the Royal Wedding. The dispute centres around Spain's plans to privatise the company which employs around 12,500 ground staff.

You may recall that, last year, Spanish Air Traffic Controllers were marched back to their stations at gun-point after the government took a tough line on the disruption, but this dispute is more serious because it lies at the heart of the European Debt Crisis.

Spain said in December it wanted to partially privatise
state airport operator AENA, which it says could be worth up to
30 billion euros ($42 billion), alongside its state lottery as
part of plans to reduce the national debt. (Reuters)

I can see where the Spanish government is coming from. Spain is one of the PIGS, a member of the unflattering, Groucho Marx style club that comprises Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain. Spain has the fifth largest economy in the EU but its gross debt as a percentage of GDP has almost doubled in four years. Of the PIGS, Spain is the least likely to default on or restructure its debts, and it is a long way from its fellow PIG, Ireland, but it is still on the sick list.

What is happening?

Europe is reeling from decades of Daddy Warbucks largesse, generosity it could not afford, given to people who thought there was no tomorrow. What was a politically convenient stance, that of increasing public spending and supporting rampant capitalism, has simply, come home to roost. Spain has already taken severe public sector measures and the privatisation of Aena is just another cut in the budget.

If anything, the ground staff at Spanish airports are victims of poor expectation management and authors of their own greed, but as austerity and debt hits home, people will start jumping up and down and demanding they get to the head of the queue.

As I have said before, when you have somebody by the balls it focuses their attention. None of us are going to escape the consequences of our actions. All of us are heading for older cars, cheaper food, cheaper holidays and higher utility bills. If the workers at Aena fully understood that they are as much a part of the problem as the people they are going to stuff over this Easter, perhaps they might show a little more sympathy.

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