LABOR DISPUTE

Mediator proposes cut in number of layoffs planned by Iberia

Labor law expert suggests 3,141 job cuts instead of 3,800

The labor law expert agreed upon by Iberia management and labor representatives to mediate in their dispute over the airline’s restructuring plan has proposed fewer job cuts than are included in the official labor force adjustment plan (ERE) filed by the Spanish carrier.

Gregorio Tudela, a professor of private, social and economic law at Madrid's Autónoma University (UAM), met with representatives of the two sides on Wednesday to present his report, which calls for 3,141 workers to be laid off, about 16 percent of its workforce. The ERE presented by Iberia entails the dismissal of some 3,800 employees.

The meeting took place as Iberia employees entered the eighth day of a series of a series of stoppages to protest the ERE. Cabin crew and ground staff held a five-day strike last month and began another five-day stoppage on Monday, which was seconded this time around by the airline’s pilots. Another five-day protest is planned just before the Easter holidays.

An estimated 1,300 flights are due to be canceled this week by Iberia and other airlines such as Vueling, Iberia express and Air Nostrum, which rely on Iberia for handling services.

The figure suggested by Tudela is close to the 3,141 job cuts Iberia’s management proposed before talks broke down between the two sides. The restructuring plan presented by the airline in November of last year called for 4,500 layoffs.

Tudela also proposed an average pay cut for ground staff of seven percent, and 14 percent for cabin crew.

International Airline Group (IAG), the holding company for merger of Iberia and British Airways, argues that the restructuring is necessary to restore the Spanish carrier to profitability. Iberia's losses last year widened to 351 million euros from 98 million a year earlier, a result which helped drive IAG into the red.

Union representatives claim the layoffs are the start of a plan by BA to dismantle Iberia and get its hands on its assets cheaply.

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