Malaga air traffic controllers cleared

A MALAGA court has shelved the case against 14 Malaga Air Traffic Controllers who failed to go to work during the unannounced strike action last December.

The doctors who sign the sick leave for the controllers were called to court and confirmed that they had illnesses which prevented them from working.

The strike came after the Cabinet approved a Royal Decree on December 3, 2010, which stated that the maximum number of hours which controllers can work is 1,670 a year.

The protest disrupted the travel plans of not only people living in Spain, but across Europe as well.

The government declared the state of alert, which placed the controllers under military command with the threat of jail terms for refusing orders.

It was the first time the measure had been imposed since Spain became a democracy after in 1975.

In Malaga alone, more than 200 flights were cancelled and 30,000 hotel bookings were lost on the Costa del Sol.

On December 7, Malaga’s Public Prosecutor opened an investigation to determine whether the Malaga controllers who abandoned their place of work did so to support the strike.

The first three were called to give statements on December 14 but refused to talk.

The other 11 maintained the same attitude, and on January 25, all 14 were reported for possibly organizing an abandonment of their position, a crime which is specified in Article 409 of the Penal Code and foresees fines of between eight and 12 months and suspension for six months to two years.

Those who take part in a collective abandonment of an essential public service, even if they did not plan or lead it, can face fines of between eight and 12 months.

Throughout Spain, the airport authority AENA has opened disciplinary proceedings against 442 controllers.

The strike received little sympathy from the Spanish public, whose average yearly salary is around €18,000, compared to the €200,000 per year of Air Traffic Controllers.

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