October 21, 2020

131 air traffic controllers are sentenced to fines of between 15,000 and 31,500 euros for the closure of airspace in 2010


The titular magistrate of the Criminal Court No. 18 of Madrid has sentenced 131 air traffic controllers from the Madrid-Barajas and Torrejón airports as perpetrators of a crime of abandoning the public service, in the macrocause followed by the case of the closure of the space air in December 2010.

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Six of the defendants have been sentenced to a seven-month fine with a daily fee of 150 euros; another six, a seven-month fine, at a rate of 100 euros and six more, a ten-month fine, with a daily fee of 100 euros. The rest of the defendants have been sentenced to a five-month fine, at the rate of 100 euros. Two of the defendants, César AC and Pedro Pablo AG, have been acquitted for lack of evidence against them and for having been accredited throughout the trial that their medical part of sick leave responded to a clinical reality, respectively.

Likewise, the accused are condemned to pay the injured parties, jointly and severally, together with the public entity ENAIRE (formerly AENA) as subsidiary civil liable for the amount of 13,076,981.62 euros.

Throughout the plenary, and the extensive test carried out, the magistrate has concluded that, “on the bridge of December 2010, the air traffic controllers accused in these proceedings, adopted a labor pressure mechanism consisting of abandoning their posts work on a massive scale, thus paralyzing air traffic and this under the direction of the members of the Board of Directors and union delegates of the Usca union ”.

In the act of the trial – says the sentence – “the 133 defendants deposed, all of them air traffic controllers, of which 119 admitted having participated in the facts contained in the indictment presented by the Public Ministry, which includes that the Board of Directors and local delegates of the USCA union proposed how to act to exert pressure on AENA and the Government of Spain, agreeing that, as of the afternoon shift on December 3, all or most of the controllers who were willing to follow the protest, signed the affidavit referred to in art. 34.4 of the Air Safety Law ”.

“Thus, between 5:00 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. (local time), all the controllers, in a collective and concerted action in order to paralyze the aeronautical activity outside of any collective bargaining or other legal means , presented to the person in charge of the room said document, written in their own handwriting, in which each one in their own way, alleged a significant decrease in their psychophysical capacities to carry out their position as air traffic controller. The presentation of the form obliged, according to the aforementioned Law and the existing protocol, the AENA management to immediately replace said controller ”.

Job abandonment

That is to say, the 119 defendants recognized in the trial the concerted and collective action to abandon their jobs, organized by the Board of Directors and trade union delegates of USCA, with the aim of paralyzing the aeronautical activity. Although the rest of the air traffic controllers did not acknowledge the facts, the sentence differentiates between those who presented the form of art. 34, 4 of the Aviation Safety Law and those who did not submit said form, even if they were absent from their jobs without justifying their absence or went to their respective destinations to control the provisions of the Chicago Convention.

“The statements made by the defendants in the plenary were categorically denied – as reflected in the resolution – with the statements of the different witnesses who deposed in the plenary, who recounted the sequence of events that occurred on the December bridge of 2010 , both in the Torrejón ACC, and in the Barajas airport tower, as well as with the documentary, expert evidence and hearing of the recordings in court ”.

“From the practice of said test – the resolution continues – it appears that the defendants agreed with the purpose of interrupting air traffic, and for this they cascaded a form alleging the decrease in psychophysical capacity that prevented them, for the sake of guarantee air safety, continue in their respective jobs, or they did not go to their jobs or if they did, they limited themselves to controlling the flights provided for in the Chicago Convention ”.

“Mechanism of pressure on the Government”

“Likewise, it is clear from the statements of the witnesses that the controllers deployed labor pressure behavior towards AENA, and their objective consisted of paralyzing air traffic, an objective they achieved, on dates when there was going to be a lot of passenger movement , as it was the longest bridge of the year, the December 2010 bridge, when the Rate 0 was decreed, as could be heard in the recordings of the conversations held by the accused. They used this mechanism to pressure the government, so that the Royal Decree that was finally published at 9:26 pm on December 3, 2010 was not approved. ”

The events reported by the witnesses have allowed the magistrate to reach this conclusion, “because as has been shown, the legislative activity to regulate the professional work of air traffic controllers was incessant in 2010, culminating in the RD issued the The same December 3, 2010, which caused great disappointment and displeasure in the group of controllers, as well as their anger against Aena and the Ministry of Development, which was revealed by all the aforementioned witnesses and who testified as over so many trial sessions ”.

“It is true that many witnesses, air traffic controllers, appeared in the sentence, who testified in favor of the defendants, and indicated that the capacity reduction forms were presented after the declaration of Rate 0 by of AENA ”; although, once the statements of said witnesses were reviewed, the judge noted “their lack of precision and forcefulness, as well as their ambiguity when recounting the facts.”

“Premeditated and organized character”

It is, therefore, proven that the civil controllers who were assigned the afternoon shift on December 3, 2010, jointly submitted the disability form provided for in art. 34.4 of the LSA, prior to decreeing Rate 0. “This derived from the concerted action devised by the collective of controllers as a protest against the publication of the Royal Decree that would affect their working conditions.” Analyzing the evidence and focusing on the tapping of the recordings made, the judge understands that “these reveal the premeditated and organized nature of the union protest deployed by the accused; a joint action consisting of leaving jobs through, initially, the presentation of disability forms, with the obvious purpose of closing the airspace in Spain and thus winning the pulse of the government, which was going to modify that same day December 3, 2010 their working conditions ”.

“The actions of the defendants not only affected citizens who could not travel on the December 2010 bridge, but also had serious economic consequences for tourism in the community of Madrid, on one of the bridges of the year with the highest influx of travelers in the city, although in the compensation chapter no amount is claimed for this concept, despite the fact that there were numerous cancellations of hotel reservations, derived from the actions of the civil controllers ”.

“That objective was sought by the defendants, to cause the maximum noise – continues the resolution – with said concerted action aimed at the paralysis of air traffic, to win the pulse that they threw at the government, by causing the maximum economic damage against the company and effective against the interests of citizens ”.

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