Air traffic controllers said they will carry out successive four-hour strikes on March 2nd, 7th, 12th and 15th against austerity measures. They last went on strike on January 18th, affecting 5000 passengers flying to and from Larnaca and Paphos airports.
Air traffic controllers also went on strike in December 2011 in protest against austerity measures and a new package of cut backs and taxes which includes a two-year freeze on public sector salaries agreed by the government and the major opposition parties.
The measures were aimed at cutting state spending, increasing state income and averting Cyprus’ entry into the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF.)
Even though air traffic controllers claim to understand the necessity for austerity measures and cut backs, they insist that they should be excluded from the new cut backs, because as they say the airports earn a lot of money, therefore they earn their high salaries.
But the majority of the public believes that air controllers belong to a small privilaged group of overpaid state employees that have been slow to adjust to the new economic reality on the island. In the last quarter of 2011, GDP was stagnant at 0 percent growth as the economy slips back into recession.
Air traffic controllers are targeting Cyprus’ tourism industry, the one bright spot in the economy, to pressure the state into exempting them from austerity measures.