Thursday, December 30, 2010

Strike to Privatization

I don’t claim to know what is going on in Spain and it looks like we in America will never find out. First, the government of Spain broke its word and voided their air traffic controller’s contract. When that pushed the Spanish air traffic controllers into a wildcat strike, the Spanish government sent in the guys with the guns -- the military -- to crush the strike. I wrote about it all at the beginning of the month.

I have heard from individual sources that one reason the strike was so crippling was that some first-level supervisors joined in. In other words, in some cases, the controller’s immediate supervisors walked out too. I have no reason to doubt this but I haven’t been unable to verify it through any media accounts. I haven’t been able to verify much of anything through the media. At least not from America. Which brings us to today.

Spain launches sale of air traffic control in 13 airports

”Spain's government on Wednesday formally launched the privatisation of air traffic control in 13 airports, just weeks after clamping down on a wildcat strike by controllers.”

If you’re interested, you can read about the story from a second source here. So far, these are the only two English-language stories I’ve been able to find. Time magazine did a background story on it before Christmas.

So, let me list what we know so far.

Spain started demonizing controllers months ago.

Spain broke its word and voided the controller’s contract.

The controllers responded with a wildcat (not sanctioned by the union) strike.

Spain sent the military in to arrest the strikers and take over the air traffic control system.

Spain didn’t stop with breaking the strike. They are now out to break the union. The government’s actions proved so politically popular that the socialist government (that’s right, they really are Socialists) is now prosecuting union members for sedition.

And, after using the power of the State to break the power of a legal organization of citizens, the State is going to sell off the public’s asset -- the air traffic control system.

Cui Bono?

And for those that don’t keep up with economics, you might want to know that Spain is in the crosshairs of the world’s bankers.

Let’s say that Spain’s controllers really did make some ridiculous salary -- say on average it’s $463,600 a year. Let’s say it’s outrageous. Let’s say it’s bad for their country. Let’s say that no one should have that much power -- to be able to negotiate that big of a salary and hold the country hostage. And let’s say you change “controllers” to “bankers”, go back and reread this paragraph.

Check the date -- 2006. Good deal: Average Goldman Sachs employee makes $622,000. Keep in mind, their average includes secretaries and the mailroom boy.

Cui Bono? It isn’t the controllers. And it isn’t the citizens of Spain.

Don Brown
December 30, 2010

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