Wikileaks

POSIBLES REPRESALIAS POR EL ERE EN LA BASE DE MORÓN

Cable en el que la embajada de EE UU intenta frenar despidos en Morón

  • La embajada de EE UU en Madrid advierte a Washington sobre las posibles represalias de ZP si se producen despidos.
  • El asesor político cree que el Gobierno socialista podría retirar el contingente en Afganistán.
ID:
222676
Etiquetas:
MARR, PREL, SP
Fecha:
2009-08-28 06:04:00
RefID:
09MADRID861
Origen:
Embassy Madrid
Clasificación:
CONFIDENTIAL
Destino:
---
Encabezado:
---
VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMD #0861/01 2400604
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 280604Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1144
INFO RUENAAA/CNO WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USAFE RAMSTEIN AB GE
RUEWMFD/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUFAPUV/NAVSTA ROTA SP
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 1564
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUEAHQA/HQUSAF WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USTRANSCOM SCOTT AFB IL


C O N F I D E N T I A L MADRID 000861

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/27/2019
TAGS: MARR, PREL, SP
SUBJECT: JOB CUTS AT MORON COULD HAVE SERIOUS NEGATIVE
CONSEQUENCES FOR RELATIONS WITH SPAIN

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires, a.i. William H. Duncan, Reasons 1.4(b
) and (d).

1. (C) Summary and action request: U.S. Air Forces in
Europe (USAFE) has set in motion a procurement process that
is likely to result in the discharge of 50-100 Spanish
workers at Moron air base in April 2010, followed by an
additional 20-100 job cuts in October 2011. At the same
time, we understand the U.S. Navy is facing budget cuts at
the base at Rota in FY-2011 that may result in local national
job losses there. This cable assesses the potential negative
consequences of these job losses. Post strongly recommends
consultations between the Departments of State and Defense
over the implications of these job cuts and the possibility
that they can be mitigated or avoided altogether. End
summary and action request.

2. (C) Moron is a Spanish air base located near Seville in
southern Spain. Along with the air and naval base at Rota
(near Cadiz), Moron has played a key role in a logistical
train that stretches from the U.S. to theaters of operation
in Afghanistan and Iraq. Governed by a bilateral agreement
on defense cooperation that dates to the Eisenhower
Administration (three decades before Spain joined NATO), our
defense arrangements with Spain are a cornerstone of the
bilateral relationship. Some 6,000 U.S. military flights
transit Spain each year and recent years have seen an annual
average of 150 port calls by U.S. warships.

3. (C) Post has for some time been engaged in consultations
with USAFE regarding cutbacks at Moron air base that will
result in the dismissal of a number of Spanish employees. We
appreciate USAFE's willingness to engage on this issue. The
job cuts are, as we understand it, driven by a combination of
operational, budgetary and contracting policy factors and
(after separation and potential litigation costs are paid)
will save around $14 million annually. We are not in a
position to second-guess USAFE on those matters. However, we
want to ensure that senior decision-makers at the Departments
of State and Defense understand the Spanish political context
and the potential negative consequences of the job cuts,
which we believe could be very serious and spill over into
other areas of the military-to-military and indeed overall
bilateral relationship. We also understand the U.S. Navy is
looking at serious budget cuts at Rota next year, raising the
possibility of multiple rounds of job losses at the bases.

4. (C) We saw last year a concrete example of how seriously
the GOS takes labor issues at the two bases. During annual
labor negotiations, the Spanish union made numerous demands
regarding wages and working conditions. DOD was able to
agree to all but two. No jobs were at stake, and the
outstanding requests bordered on the absurd (e.g., being paid
40 hours wages for a shorter work week). Nevertheless, the
Ambassador was called by Minister of Interior Rubalcaba and
asked to explain why DOD could not satisfy all the demands.
The Minister's inquiry started with President Zapatero. We
were able to offer a convincing explanation of our position
and quiet the President's concerns, but the incident was
revealing. On paper, Rubalcaba has no role whatsoever with
the respect to the bases or the workers. We surmise Zapatero
asked him to engage us on the issue (rather than his
Ministers of Defense or Labor) because of Rubalcaba's
formidable reputation as a political fireman (Zapatero
describes him as the "sharpest knife in the drawer"). If the
GOS was that concerned over relatively minor and excessive
union demands over working hours, what will the reaction be
to a large-scale job cuts?

5. (C) Also, last year when this issue rose to the cabinet,
Zapatero was the most popular politician in Spain and his
political fortunes were at their zenith. Since then, the
world financial crisis has hit Spain full force, and
Zapatero's popularity has crumbled. Unemployment has risen
from less than nine percent last year to over 18 percent
today. Analysts uniformly predict it will pass 20 percent
next year. Analysts also insist Spain will be one of the
last countries in Western Europe to struggle out of
recession. Zapatero and his party lost control of Galicia in
local elections in March 2009 and recently dropped behind the
main opposition party in the polls for the first time since

he won the presidency in 2004. Everyone here, including
government insiders, predicts a bitter political season this
fall as Zapatero struggles to get his annual budget passed
(he does not have a majority in congress) and the opposition
parties sense weakness. All of this comes down to one issue:
unemployment. Ordinary Spaniards are understandably
terrified by spiraling jobless rates, and Zapatero has to
stop the bleeding or risk seeing his second term go to ruin.
When U.S. Secretary of Transportation LaHood met with
Zapatero in May, the President sought the Secretary's
personal assistance in convincing General Motors to preserve
jobs at Spain's Opel plant.

6. (C) The two bases are located in Andalusia, Spain's most
populous autonomous community (i.e., state), and a stronghold
for Zapatero's party. Earlier this year when he tried to
shore up his image with a cabinet shuffle, Zapatero brought
the powerful President of Andalusia and Socialist Party
baron, Manuel Chavez, into his cabinet as Third Vice
President. No politician slipping in the polls can ignore
his base, and the core of Zapatero's base is Andalusia.

7. (C) The principal opposition party, the Partido Popular
(PP), is likely to make things worse for us by using the job
cuts to beat up Zapatero. President Obama is wildly popular
in Spain, and Zapatero has very publicly made a new and
closer relationship with the U.S. a centerpiece of his
foreign policy. The PP will be quick to use job cuts at the
bases to prove that Zapatero has failed in his attempts to
improve ties with the U.S. Conversely, parties farther to
the left will use the job cuts to argue that Spain's returns
on its defense arrangement with the U.S. (never popular with
the Spanish left) are ever-diminishing. Since any additional
Spanish effort in Afghanistan is always regarded here as
something Spain does for the U.S., we would expect many to
ask why additional Spanish troops should be put at risk when
the U.S. is putting Spanish workers in the unemployment line.
Some politicians and journalists will no doubt appeal to the
defining Spanish characteristic - pride - and insist Zapatero
somehow retaliate for the U.S. "insult."

8. (C) For all of these reasons, the job cuts at Moron (and
maybe Rota after that) could put Zapatero in an extremely
difficult position. Assuming he cannot reverse the decision
(and we expect the GOS would reach out to senior-levels of
the USG in an effort to do so), he may feel compelled to do a
number of things that will be unhelpful to the USG. First,
our agreement on defense cooperation frees us from paying a
number of local taxes and fees. Revenue-hungry bureaucrats
and politicians periodically take a run at these exemptions
(at the moment, they are targeting a one million dollar a
year tax break on utilities), but we have so far enjoyed the
support of the GOS in beating off these efforts. If we cut
the jobs, we may find the cost of operating in Spain will
suddenly increase, potentially eating up any payroll savings.
We should also never forget that our use of the bases
functions on the basis of good will and trust. If we give
the GOS a black eye over jobs, we anticipate the good will
which lubricates the day to day working of our military
presence will dissipate. This could affect routine
operations (e.g., blanket flight clearances) and the "special
requests" we make from time to time driven by unforeseeable
operational necessities. It also poisons the well for future
attempts to engage the Spanish military more closely on U.S.
priorities (e.g., Africom).

9. (C) One of the most dangerous aspects of this situation is
public relations. The two bases get very little media
attention (and almost all of that comes from allegations U.S.
military flights via Spain carried terrorism detainees to
Guantanamo). No news is good news in this case. The Spanish
public is pacifistic and suspicious of military activity,
especially U.S. military activity. Nevertheless, these two
bases are far from the media centers of Madrid and Barcelona.
Anything that spotlights the bases in the media is probably
going to hurt our interests. We can certainly anticipate the
unions will go to the press to claim they are being
mistreated by the U.S. military, casting our use of the bases
in a very negative light.

10. (C) Avoiding these job cuts altogether would be the

safest course. As we understand the situation that would
mean identifying requirements for Moron that would
necessitate keeping operational capabilities at the current
level. Obviously Embassy Madrid cannot do that, but we
strongly recommend DOD look seriously at this possibility.
It may be that there are activities conducted elsewhere that
could be moved to Moron or Rota, offsetting the job losses
anticipated under the current scenario. We also urge that
before jobs cuts are made at Moron, DOD review the situation
carefully and consider as well possible future cuts at Rota.
If this is done one base at a time and is driven exclusively
by contracting officers, we are likely to be forced to go
back to the Spanish repeatedly in a "death of a thousand
cuts" scenario. That will probably only increase the pain
for all concerned. We recently learned that a contract award
may occur as early as October 2009, and the available time
for interagency consultations on this issue appears to be
short. We therefore urge the Departments of State and
Defense to discuss these issues at the earliest opportunity.
DUNCAN;"