August 6, 2020

Fourteen controllers face fines of up to 75,000 euros for the 2010 air chaos


The December 2010 bridge it will be remembered by many like that of Chaos in Spanish airports. For almost 20 hours, the airspace remained closed due to the lack of air traffic controllers. The collective said then that they stopped working because they had exhausted the quota of annual hours that the law stipulated could be in their positions. However, the Ministry of Development then led by José Blanco accused them of making a covert strike and leaving their jobs without justification. The issue has been settled in various courts and, on the 15th, arrives in Madrid. 133 controllers will sit on the bench the Criminal Court number 18 of Madrid during 26 sessions that will end on March 28 accused of alleged abandonment of public service. For them, the Prosecutor’s Office of Madrid requests fines of between 60,000 and 75,000 euros. The majority of them, however, will not have to face such a fine because have reached an agreement with the Public Ministry, similar to that reached by other colleagues in Palma de Mallorca. There will be 14 who will plead, according to industry sources. They will, they explain, because they consider that they did nothing contrary to the law and prefer to “spend the money on trials rather than pay an agreement” and thus clean up their reputation.

In its brief, the Prosecutor’s Office claims that the controllers jointly and jointly and severally indemnify the injured passengers for canceled flights and other derived expenses that have not yet been compensated, a compensation that asks the entity to take charge subsidiarily public on which controllers depend, Enaire, according to Efe. The Office of the Prosecutor recalls that “as a result of the collective abandonment” of the defendants, public officials, of their jobs, the airspace was closed in the Central-North region and, consequently, the cancellation of 1,352 flights between the 3rd and 3rd on December 4, 2010, during the Constitution Bridge. “These cancellations caused damage to the public service provided by Aena and to a large number of travelers who lost the amount of their plane and hotel reservations, as well as other cancellation fees,” he adds.

Concerted action

The prosecutor also denounces how, between 5:00 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. on day 3, a group of 59 controllers, “in a collective and concerted action in order to paralyze the aeronautical activity apart from any collective or other negotiation By legal means, ”he presented to his person in charge a document“ written in his own handwriting ”in which each one“ in his own way ”alleged a decrease in psychophysical abilities to perform his position. In this sense, he points out, the fact that practically all the staff planned for that turn will deliver such a form, forced the management of AENA to gradually reduce the capacity of the different sectors in which the airspace is organized. Thus, at the beginning of the night shift only 16 controllers of the 44 that were scheduled were presented; the majority were, says the letter, in an assembly called by USCA, the majority union of the collective. The situation was consolidated a day later, when of the 73 who had to go to their jobs, “only” 19 did, a strategy that intended “to maintain the closure of airspace due to lack of staff.”

The Fiscal Ministry emphasizes that these actions, which were carried out in a “conscious” manner, were coordinated “outside of any formal strike call” by USCA, which was then involved in negotiations with Aena for the second labor agreement of the staff aeronautical. Reason for which claims 75,000 euros and a year of suspension of employment to the seven members who were well part of the Board of Directors of the union or they were members of their committee, an amount that is reduced to 60,000 euros for the rest of the accused.

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 capacity of air traffic management and control, in the hands of the controllers since March 1999.

In October 2018, the Provincial Court of Palma sentenced 73 controllers to fines of up to 31,500 euros, after they plead guilty to the crime of abandonment of service for these same facts. In Santiago de Compostela, a controller was acquitted of the same charges. However, sources in the sector say that Enaire fired him before hearing the sentence and did not get to readmit it.

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