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BUSINESS

Iberia union confirms six days of strikes to protest restructuring plan

Stoppages by cabin crews and ground staff to take place in pre-Christmas week up to December 21

Cristina Galindo

Major labor unions representing cabin crew and ground staff workers at Iberia on Thursday confirmed a six-day strike just head of the Christmas holiday period in protest at a restructuring plan at the loss-making airline. On the table are 4,500 job cuts, almost a quarter of Iberia’s workforce.

The pilots union Sepla opted not to back the strike call as it awaits the outcome of an arbitration concerning its conflict with the management over the creation of Iberia’s low-cost carrier Iberia Express. The pilots held several one-day stoppages earlier this year.

The unions set December 14 and December 17 through 21 for the stoppages, the dates having been chosen to avoid weekends and bank holidays.

Unions believe the restructuring plan is a closet ploy to dismantle Iberia and convert it into a low-cost carrier for British Airways, with which the Spanish carrier merged at the start of last year.

The restructuring plan also includes salary cuts for those workers that remain with Iberia of between 25 and 35 percent on average and a slimming down of the airline’s operations, which involves reducing the number of routes it operates by 15 percent. The company wants to trim its annual payroll costs from 1.3 billion euros to 850 million and achieve an improvement in its operating profit of 600 million euros by 2015.

Iberia has set a deadline of end-January to reach an agreement with workers on the restructuring. In the absence of an agreement, it has threatened more “drastic” measures.

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