Stoppages force Iberia to cancel a further 232 flights
Strike enters second day with no reported incidents
The government on Tuesday called on labor representatives and the management of Spanish airline Iberia to negotiate an agreement in the airline’s plans to lay off some 3,800 workers as the second of five one-day stoppages this week to protest the restructuring got underway.
Monday’s strike was marked by clashes between security forces and protesting employees at Madrid Barajas airport, resulting in the arrest of five Iberia workers. There was a strong police presence at the airport’s Terminal 4 on Tuesday, but that failed to dissuade hundreds of strikers from returning to the scene of the previous day’s incidents. So far, there have been no reports of any disturbances today.
Industry, Energy and Tourism Minister José Manuel Soria on Tuesday lamented the fact that the stoppages were “badly damaging the Spanish tourist sector and the image of Spain.” Tourism is one of the few bright spots in the Spanish economy, which shrank an estimated 1.4 percent last year.
Public Works Minister Ana Pastor also called on labor unions and the management to act “responsibly” and called for “sacrifices” to end the conflict. International Airlines Group (IAG), the holding company for Iberia and British Airways, insists the job cuts are needed to return Iberia to profitability. The Spanish carrier lost 262 million euros in the first nine months of last year.
Labor representatives claim the layoffs are the first step toward dismantling Iberia to allow BA to get hold of its assets on the cheap.
Iberia was forced to cancel 232 flights on Tuesday, but said it had managed to find alternative carriers for 85 percent of those affected. The minimum services decreed by the government allowed the airline to cover 35 percent of its scheduled flights for the day. Union officials said adherence to the strike call by those workers not assigned to cover minimum services was 100 percent.
Union leaders have called further stoppages, which are planned for the periods March 4-8 and March 18-22.