Air traffic controllers are to take their first legal strike on August 15th (read article in Castilian here, El Pais). 98 percent of air traffic controllers who participated in the consultation organised yesterday by the Unión Sindical de Controladores Aéreos (USCA) have voted to go on strike according to union sources. However they didn't decide on its duration, although statutory time limits means that they can not carry it out before mid-August, since they must give ten days notice. This will be the first legal strike undertaken by the sector in its history. Daniel Zamit, spokesperson from the USCA stressed that the union maintains its willingness to continue negotiating with AENA. They are requesting regulated working hours and rest periods and the absolute availability of the worker 365 days a year and the review of workloads. The conflict began earlier this year when the government approved by decree (later ratified as law in Congress) an expanded working day, going up to 1,200 and 1,750 hours a month) which in practice reduced the average salary by 40 percent. AENA underlined its "readiness for dialogue" and "will spare no efforts to reach agreements." José Blanco, the Development minister ensured that they will establish minimum services based on the number of strike days. "You can not consider things until they make the call to strike," stressed Blanco. He has since ruled out resorting to using the army.
The Ayuntamiento maintain two dozen vacant buildings around the city whilst paying €22.5 million in rentals (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia.) They own a number of properties, some of them large stately buildings of architectural value, that have long been left abandoned. However, in most cases, the cost of renovation, the limited functionality and technical difficulty in adapting them for new uses complicate the process of renovation. Amongst these buildings includes the Casa de la Premsa, on the avenida Rius i Taulet, a building constructed for the Universal Exhibition in 1929, which was occupied several years by the Guardia Urbana. They also include a house on Avenida de Montjuïc Montanyans, which housed the old Botanical Institute, the palace of the Marquis d'Alfarràs and the palace Laberint d'Horta. Both buildings were purchased from the family by the city council in 1967. Xavier Mulleras, the PP councillor has expressed an interest in the rental figures and believes that the municipal spending is excessive for this purpose. "It seems like a huge expenditure on rent. It denotes a lack of long-term planning."
Barcelona is emerging as one of the top international destinations for gay tourism (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The tourist industry has made claims that the Catalan capital is now one of the favourite destinations alongside San Francisco and Sydney. The festival Circuit, now in its third year, attracts around 55,000 people and makes around €60 million. 60 percent of of those attending are thought to be foreign visitors. David Martí, president of the Catalan Association for Gays and Lesbians (Acegal) says that the cash injection not only targets gay businesses but also "encourages trade in hotels and restaurants in general." There is a lack of figures, although Acegal estimate that between 250,000 and 275,000 gays and lesbians come to Barcelona every year, attracted to big events like Pride (held in June) and Circuit. The tourist board is aware of this growing microbusiness and is editing specific guides in several languages.