Labor unions representing loss-making Iberia’s ground staff and cabin crew have called 15 days of strikes to protest plans to cut 4,500 jobs, equivalent to 23 percent of the workforce. Iberia will also abandon 15 percent of the airline’s routes this year and impose salary reductions.
The stoppages will take place from in the periods February 18-22, March 4-8 and March 18-22, thus avoiding the Easter holiday period, which falls at the end of March this year.
The strikes were called after representatives of the CCOO, UGT, Asetma, USO, Sitcpla and CTA-Vuelo unions failed to bridge their differences with the management at a meeting held on Wednesday in the presence of arbiters.
The unions argued the company had failed to adhere to a pre-agreement reached on December 17, which was also backed by the pilots union Sepla. That pre-agreement was sufficient for the unions to cancel a series of one-day strikes that was due to take place the week before Christmas. Negotiations with the management renewed thereafter but no agreement was reached by the deadline of January 31 set by International Airlines Group (IAG), the holding company for the merger of Iberia and British Airways.
Labor representatives rejected the company’s final offer of a 10-percent cut in routes and a 30-percent reduction in the number of layoffs. The unions felt the offer was not feasible given that the company insisted on maintaining its target of improving operating profits by 600 million euros between now and 2015.
IAG said at the start of this month that in the absence of an accord with the unions, it would press ahead with the adjustment plan it announced in November, including the 15-percent cut in capacity this year, with the aim of returning Iberia to break-even in terms of operating cash flow by the second half of this year. Iberia lost 262 million euros in the first nine months of last year.