Spain Strike September 29: Air Travel Disruptions
Spain Strike Attracts Weak Support, Disrupts Travel
Trade unions in Spain have called for a 24-hour general strike on September 29. Though only 9% of workers are expected to take part, the effects on travel will be massive. "Minimum services" have been guaranteed, but that only means that 40% of international flights and 20% of European flights will be operating through Spain during the strike.
UK-based airlines such as easyJet and British Airways are rebooking flights to miss September 29, while RyanAir will try to operate as (almost) normal, except passengers will not be allowed to check luggage.
The strike is in response to the new budget passed by the Spanish government, as well as recently-passed austerity measures, which trade unions say undermines the ability of labor forces to bargain. Also, public-sector salaries were cut by 5%, including those of teachers.
On the other hand, the new measures supposedly push employers to hire more permanent employees and fewer temporary or contract workers.
The lack of enthusiasm was attributed to several months having passed since Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero launched his reforms, along with the widespread sense that they are unavoidable.
The daily El Mundo on Tuesday slammed the strike as 'useless' and damaging to the economy, while El Pais described it as a 'stability test' for Zapatero's minority government.
Another obstacle to the strike is public perception of the trade unions themselves, which are seen as too friendly with the government as unemployment rates climb.
Nevertheless, against the backdrop of a flare up in the sovereign-debt crisis, nervous investors will be watching for any signs of a popular backlash that could derail the austerity push in Spain, the euro zone's fourth-largest economy. Furthermore, the challenge comes from a key constituency for Mr. Zapatero's Socialist party, which could make the government more sensitive to its demands.