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No planes in Spain
"Vapor Trails over Majadahonda" -Wendy Frankel 6/2009
No planes, or very few planes were flying in Spain this weekend.
The Spanish Air Traffic Controllers called in sick. Some of them were sick, sick and tired of working overtime without a break in sight. True, they have fabulous salaries which are even more incredibly good with the overtime hours, but enough was enough. The government, their boss, wasn't listening. The pilots couldn't fly, the airports were overcrowded, the flights were canceled one after another. And all those business travelers, and tourists, and Spanish workers who finally had a 5- day weekend were stuck.
What was going on? It wasn't the volcano in Iceland polluting the atmosphere. It wasn't a terrorist threat. It wasn't a strike in France or a total computer outage or mechanical failure or...... It was a small group of workers, workers with a specific skill and training who managed to ground all the flights in Spain by calling in sick.
What? Why did it come to this? They must have been really really fed up to chance losing those great jobs. They must have been sure that no one could replace them even though Spain's unemployment is so astronomically high.
Just what IS the problem here? Apparently it's a question of too many hours on the job. I for one, don't want to be flying around in crowded airpace in which the Air Traffic controllers are falling asleep at their computer screens. I want them rested and alert, just like I want the pilots and crew on those airplanes rested and alert.
When the Air Traffic Controllers threatened a strike in the US back in the Reagan era, he, as President, simply fired them all and called in the military. Pretty dramatic action, but there haven't been any air controller strikes since.
However maybe, just maybe, the workers were right. They were working too many hours or their schedules were badly distributed. Does this happen to train conductors, taxi and bus drivers, ship captains? Do they and those who schedule their routes get enough time to plan well and pay attention.
Somehow these problems don't seem to be our problems until they affect us directly. I'm sure we'll soon hear from those of you who had Tuesday off and in so doing had a 5-day weekend starting Saturday morning. Did you get out? Did you get to your destination when you expected to? Did you enjoy your long weekend?
Spaniards don't complain as loudly when flights are detoured around France when the French Air Controllers are unhappy.
In my humble opinion, the government needs to listen and not oblige workers to do overtime. The scheduling needs to be overhauled.
vapor trails: senderos de vapor
call in sick:
sick and tired of: harto de
working overtime: trabajando horas extras
a break in sight: un descanso a la vista
enough was enough: enough is enough: basta ya
one after another: uno tras otro
a strike: una huelga
managed to ground: lograron dejar en tierra
fed up: hartos
to chance losing: para jugar a perder
crowded: muy lleno, congestionado
called in: recrutaron, llamaron a trabajar
were right: tenían razón
pay attention: prestar atención
had Tuesday off: tenía el martes libre
get out: salieron de viaje
expected to: esperaban