Strike action by ground staff and cabin crew imminent at Spanish airline

January 19, 2012

Ground staff members at a Spanish airline have voted in favour of industrial action to secure job guarantees following the establishment of a new low cost carrier.

The workers, represented by the ITF-affiliated Union General de Trabajadores and the Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras, employed by Iberia, are set to start a programme of 24-hour strikes on 3 February. The action will continue every Monday and Friday thereafter. The ground staff could be joined by their cabin crew counterparts if they vote in favour of industrial action on 20 January.

They are demanding an extension of existing agreements guaranteeing employment up to 31 December 2015. This in light of the airline’s creation of new low cost carrier Iberia Express. The unions believe that agreements, effective until 31 December 2012, had been forged before the potential consequences of setting up Iberia Express had been considered. It is believed that the new airline will consist of some 40 aircraft, most of which are currently operated by Iberia, and that there are plans to outsource the operation.

Iberia pilots, represented by another union, are also taking strike action at the end of January over the company’s plans for the new low cost carrier.

Gabriel Mocho, ITF civil aviation secretary, commented: "Iberia's management should reconsider its plans for Iberia Express. Instead of forcing workers to accept new employment conditions, the management should be providing assurances that the new subsidiary airline will give the workers new opportunities to develop their skills in order to provide a better service to the public. The company should heed the lesson learnt by British Airways – which like Iberia is a member of the IAG Group – that a long and unnecessary dispute should be avoided."

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