BUSINESS

Iberia faces six-day strike just ahead of Christmas holiday period

Stoppages in protest at airline’s drastic restructuring plan Minister says Spain “cannot afford” disruption

Major labor unions representing cabin crew and ground staff workers at Iberia are threatening to hold a six-day strike just head of the Christmas holiday period to protest a restructuring plan imposed on the loss-making airline by its parent IAG, which involves 4,500 job cuts -- about 23 percent of its workforce.

UGT and CCOO officials said Tuesday that the first planned day for the stoppage is December 14, followed by a five-day period between December 17 and 21. The unions will continue to hold meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday with the view to formally declaring the strike with the Labor Ministry on Thursday. Union representatives said the calendar of stoppages was drawn up with the aim of avoiding weekends and bank holidays.

The pilots union Sepla said it could not join the stoppages as it was bound not to under an ongoing arbitration process aimed at a resolving a dispute with the management over the creation of Iberia’s low-cost carrier Iberia Express. The pilots staged a series of strikes earlier this year in protest.

Public Works Minister Ana Pastor on Tuesday called for the unions and Iberia’s management to negotiate an agreement on the company’s restructuring plan. “In the current situation, Spain cannot afford a conflict in such a strategic sector as the airline sector for the country,” she said.

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