Guatemala Fires Striking Air-Traffic Controllers

January 21, 2005

GUATEMALA CITY (EFE) – Airtraffic in this northernmost CentralAmerican nation returned to normal Jan.13 after the government fired its strikingcontrollers and replaced them with professionalsfrom several other nations.President Oscar Berger thankedMexico, Peru, El Salvador and Hondurasfor sending the replacements that enabledthe capital’s air traffic to return to normalafter shutting down for 48 hours.Berger told the press the Guatemalancontrollers had been fired and air trafficreturned to normal at Guatemala City’s LaAurora international airport.The 56 Guatemalan controllers walkedoff the job in support of demands formonthly raises of $644.32 and renewal oftheir job contracts, which they say expiredon Dec. 31, 2004.The controllers earned $2,190 a month.Berger also announced 20 newGuatemalan air-traffic controllers werebeing trained in Mexico to take over thefired strikers’ jobs.The controllers’ walkout groundedmore than 50 flights and resulted in lossesof more than $6 million.Five high-ranking controllers at theinternational airport were arrested onWednesday on charges of jeopardizing thesafety of air travel.

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