The spokesman of the Union of Air Traffic Controllers Union (USCA) César Cabo has rejected Wednesday that the closure of airspace in 2010 was motivated by the absence of controllers in their posts, since “maybe not 100%, but there were people to keep flying the planes. “
Cabo, to whom the Prosecutor’s Office imputes an alleged abandonment of public service, has reiterated that they “never” disregarded their duties, in line with what several of their colleagues had previously claimed, although they have acknowledged that they reported in writing a reduction in their abilities to work after the “near collision” between an airplane and a helicopter, continued to carry out their work.
The former secretary of communication of the USCA has indicated to magistrate Margarita Valcarce that she was on vacation when the airspace closed for about 20 hours at the 2010 Constitution Bridge, which affected 600,000 passengers.
Before the overload of hours that dragged the control towers of the whole country, the union asked for help to summon the media to a press conference in which they would explain more details of the new calculation that the Government was going to propose.
“We were saturated with decrees and I said we were going to court for something we did not share,” said Cabo, who pointed out that that year was particularly “intense” even having no union charge.
“You get 10 or 12 decrees a year, Mr. Blanco – in reference to the then Socialist Minister of Development, José Blanco – campaigns against the controllers, you go to the media and the journalists attack you, and they insult you on the street because you win money, “he lamented.
During the session, Roberto Huerta, another of the controllers who, like Cabo, has not reached an agreement with the Prosecutor’s Office of Madrid, who asks for all of them fines of between 60,000 and 75,000 euros and disqualification for one year.
When asked by the Public Ministry and its own defense, Huerta has refuted that he disregarded his duties despite the fact that that afternoon of December 3 he suffered a “very serious incident” between an Iberia plane and a helicopter that were “within a minute of having stuck it. “
Although the accident could be avoided, the stress was such that, hours later, he filled out two forms, one so that the incident was recorded and another, newly created, in which he reported that, as a result, “he was not in the optimal conditions. “
This last document is precisely one of the main evidence of the Prosecutor’s Office.
This is reflected in his indictment, according to which a group of 59 controllers, “in a collective and concerted action in order to paralyze the aeronautical activity outside of any collective bargaining or other legal process,” presented a responsible document “of his handwriting” in which each alleged a decrease in psychophysical abilities to perform his position.
Huerta has acknowledged that there was a situation of “general nervousness” in the room for reasons that, although he was not sure, could be due to the incident of the plane, the general environment or the closure of the employer.
“I saw a partner who was crying, but I don’t know if they had to relieve her and why. She was a lady in her 50s, and it’s hard to see someone like that cry,” he said.
Both he and another of his companions, Eduardo Pérez, have referred to the problems that the controllers had to enter their respective positions on the morning of December 4 in the presence of the National Police.
“I could not access the usual time of the relay, 8 o’clock. In the roundabout of Torrejón (Madrid) you can not park, so we retired to the nearest area, a shopping center. We stopped a moment and someone told us that they had already removed the cars, “he recalled.
Like other defendants, Pérez has said that once inside the room he saw “a few” of his companions, less than normal, but more than enough given the closure of the airspace.
The Prosecutor’s Office maintains that the controllers carried out “consciously” their actions, coordinated “outside of any formal strike call” by USCA, which was then involved in the negotiations with AENA for its second labor agreement.
Those already formed have admitted a sentence that ranges between 31,500 euros and five months of disqualification for six union representatives, and about 15,000 euros, the remaining 113.
The origin of the conflict dates back to January 2010, precisely to the negotiations of the agreement; After accusing each other of negotiating without willingness to reach an agreement, in February the Government passed a royal decree law that returned to AENA the management and control of air traffic, in the hands of the controllers since 1999.