International support builds for Iberia workers

March 5, 2013

As Iberia workers kicked off their second phase of industrial action on 4 March, they were joined in Spain by delegations from British, French and Argentinian unions supporting their struggle to prevent the loss of thousands of jobs at the airline.

Staff at British Airways, Iberia’s sister airline in the International Airlines Group (IAG) group headed by Willie Walsh, also showed their support and their rejection of the IAG plans on the same day. Ahead of a demonstration outside the IAG offices at London Heathrow Airport, Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, wihich is the UK’s largest trade union and represents personnel across British Airways, unveiled a giant banner outside the union’s office at Heathrow which read Déjà vu Willie Walsh, IAG: We are all Iberia, IAG: Iberia somos todos.

ITF civil aviation secretary Gabriel Mocho commented: “IAG is more than just any one airline, it is a community of workers. They have made it plain that they are all in this together. They will all stand up for the threatened staff and for a successful Iberia and British Airways.”

He continued: “We are pleased to see that even the conservative Spanish government, a shareholder in IAG, is showing its alarm over the company’s reckless plans. Those plans tear up the proposals negotiated by the Spanish unions for phased cost cutting and redundancies.”

Len McCluskey commented: “If Willie Walsh thinks British Airways staff will keep quiet while he attacks their colleagues in Iberia he is wrong. We all support those threatened by Walsh’s reckless plans. The message from Britain to IAG is clear: We are all Iberia.”

From the demonstration in Terminal 4 of Madrid-Barajas Airport, Ricardo Frecia, chair of the ITF civil aviation regional committee of Latin America & the Caribbean, commented: “In our region we know very well what our brothers and sisters in Iberia are suffering as we have gone through several restructuring processes. For this reason we are here today expressing our solidarity with the Spanish unions. ”

Latin America is the biggest international market for Iberia.

Unite will stage a further protest at London Heathrow Airport on 6 March.

The strikes follow the breakdown of talks with management over plans to lay off 4,500 workers, 23 per cent of Iberia’s total workforce.  A third phase of industrial action is planned for 18-22 March.

To express support for the Iberia workers on Twitter, use the following hash-tag: #supportiberiastaff.  Photographs of the demonstrations can be viewed here.

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