Iberia reduces number of planned layoffs by 17 percent to 3,807

Airline formally presents labor adjustment plan, opening 30-day negotiation period

International Airlines Group, the holding company for the merger of British Airways and Iberia, on Tuesday formally presented a labor force adjustment plan (ERE) for the loss-making Spanish carrier that reduces the number of jobs to be shed to 3,807 from the 4,500 it initially announced in November.

The presentation of the ERE opens a process of consultation with labor representatives that will last for 30 days. “This is part of Iberia's transformation plan to introduce permanent structural changes across the airline to stem its losses enabling it to grow profitably in the future,” IAG said in a statement.

In documentation presented to the Economy and Labor Ministries, IAG said Iberia needs to shed jobs because of economic, organizational and production reasons. In a separate statement, IAG said Iberia had lost 850 million euros between 2008 and September of last year, including 262 million in the first nine months of 2012. As a result, it said drastic measures were needed to cut costs and improve revenues to make the company viable.

IAG also wants Iberia to cut its route capacity by 15 percent this year and for the airline’s employees to accept wage cuts.

In negotiations with the labor unions before filing the ERE, the management offered to reduce the number of layoffs to 3,147 but failed to reach an agreement with worker representatives. After the talks broke down, unions representing ground staff and cabin crew called for 15 days of strikes between this month and the next, thus avoiding the Easter holiday period, which takes place at the end of March.

The stoppages are due to take place in the periods February 18-22, March 4-8 and March 18-22. Europa Press quoted Public Works Minister Ana Pastor as saying that Spain could not afford to allow itself to lose 10 million euros a day because of the strikes. The minister called for an “agreement and understanding between the two parties.”

Pastor met on Monday with Iberia’s chief executive, Rafael Sánchez-Lozano and labor union representatives, including from the pilots’ union Sepla. “I represent the rights of all Spaniards and respecting the right to strike, will try by all means to see that the right to mobility is respected,” the minister said.