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Tamaño letra

AENA calls series of airport strikes to protest privatization

Minister Blanco confident of averting stoppages scheduled to start at Easter

Three months after a wildcat strike launched by air traffic controllers brought Spain's airspace to a standstill- and led the government to declare a state of alert- the country's main labor unions on Tuesday informed the Labor Ministry that a further 22 days of inaction have been slated in protest at the planned part-privatization of the airport services provider AENA.

The dates on which the strikes are mooted have been planned to cause maximum disruption: the first series of strikes would fall on Easter week and public holidays in May. The full timetable of proposed stoppages is April 20, 21, 24, 25 and 30; May 2, 14, 15, 19 and 20; June 13, 23 and 30; July 1, 2, 3, 4, 15 and 31 and August 1, 15 and 31. All are strategic dates during the country's busiest holiday periods.

The government has not made great strides to appease the unions, which have demanded the government backtrack on plans to sell 49 percent of AENA and to privatize the running of Spain's two largest airports, Madrid Barajas and El Prat in Barcelona. In a joint communiqué, the unions accused the Public Works Ministry of lying in its assertion that the two parties are engaged in talks and that there is no labor conflict within AENA: "The arrogance of the ministry makes it incapable of seeking solutions to the problems in air transport," the statement read.

The strike plan was forged during a protest march in February after the government refused to back down. On learning of its formalization, Public Works Minister José Blanco spoke of his confidence that an agreement to avoid strike action would be reached. A meeting between the ministry and unions has been scheduled for Thursday.