No End in Sight for Air-Traffic Controller Strike

July 16, 2004

AS the country’s air-traffic controllersentered the third week of their strike, thegovernment stood firm and refused to paythe salaries of the country’s 89 controllersand 36 other striking aviation workers,and a San José judge on Wednesdaydeclared the strike illegal.Public Works and Transport MinisterJavier Chaves said Wednesday that noadvances had been made toward resolvingthe strike. He urged the controllers tothink about how the strike will financiallyhurt their families.Costa Rica’s controllers have notworked since June 26, demanding a salaryincrease they say the government promisedthem in 1994. Government officials say thecontrollers are demanding more moneythan they are owed (TT, July 2).The U.S. National Air-TrafficControllers Association (NATCA) thisweek expressed solidarity for Costa Rica’scontrollers.In a written statement, NATCA presidentJohn Carr criticized Costa Rican governmentofficials, claiming the decision touse 28 interim controllers from other LatinAmerican nations to keep the airport runningseriously compromises the safety ofaircraft using the nation’s airports.The striking Costa Rican controllersalso claim using one-third the normalamount of controllers, which left thecountry without the assistance of radarfor more than a week (TT, July 9), putsair traffic in “grave danger.”However, Costa Rican Civil Aviationauthorities insist the interim controllersare fully qualified and using them posesno safety hazard. In the meantime, itappears to be business as usual at thecountry’s main airports, with no flightdisruptions reported.

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