Madrid, Spain (4E) – Employees of Spanish carrier Iberia have started their first five-day strike to protest the planned job cuts and reduction of salaries.
Airline staff, including pilots, baggage handlers, and air stewards, will hold three five-day strikes this month and in March to protest the company’s decision to lay off 3,800 workers and reduce workers’ pay.
More than 400 out of the 1,000 scheduled flights have been cancelled by the airline this week, as the cabin crew and baggage handlers staged a walk-out.
Ibera said the number of passengers affected by the first action could reach 70,000. The company had placed some of them on different flights, including those operated by other airlines. It has also proposed to provide refunds and alternative travel dates for other customers.
Iberia said that domestic flights would be most affected by the move, grounding almost half of the scheduled flights, while it guaranteed that 90 per cent of long-haul flights would push through.
Iberia reported a 262mn euro ($350mn) loss for the first three quarters of last year In 2011, the company merged with profitable British Airways to create the International Airlines Group.
Spain’s transport minister Ana Pastor last week urged both the airline and labor unions to reach an agreement, warning that the strikes could inflict damage to the Spanish economy.
Tourism, which is one of the country’s remaining growth sectors, accounts for around 11 per cent of Spain’s economic output. The country has faced a prolonged recession that has brought joblessness by more than 26 per cent.