Travel chaos

Hour-long lines on third day of security staff strikes at Barcelona airport

If no solution found at meeting on Monday, 24-hour strike is due on August 14

Long security lines at El Prat on Sunday
Long security lines at El Prat on SundayAlbert Garcia

Security staff at Barcelona’s El Prat airport resumed their partial strike on Monday morning, causing delays of up to an hour for passengers boarding at both terminals. Representatives of Eulen, the company that employs the security staff, as well as labor union delegates, were due to meet with officials from AENA, the Spanish airports authority, at 11am for a third round of talks.

The partial strikes began on Friday and were resumed on Sunday. They involve one-hour stoppages at 5.30am, 10.30am, and 4pm and 6.30pm every Friday, Sunday and Monday.

Security staff are striking for better pay and conditions and began a slowdown at the end of July that created lines of more than two hours on some days. They say they will continue with the partial strikes, and if a solution is not found by August 14, they will go on a 24-hour strike.

The strike committee is calling for a further 50 security staff to be hired

Among their grievances are lack of personnel, poor training and a failure by the company to pay a bonus to workers in charge of scanners. The lack of personnel often leads to extra work for existing workers, some of whom are putting in 16-hour workdays filled with “stress,” say employee representatives.

They blame AENA for awarding the airport security contract a year ago to the bidder who offered the lowest price. Under the previous contractor, Prosegur, employees were earning around €1,300 a month. With Eulen, workers who were transferred from Prosegur make €1,100, while new workers earn no more than €800 or €900, meaning they are obliged to work overtime to make up the difference. The strike committee is calling for a further 50 security staff to be hired.

Talks have progressed slowly. After the first meeting on Friday, security staff said that Eulen had not made a “quantifiable proposal.” Staff are calling for a 31% pay increase, which their employer says is unacceptable, offering 3%. After Sunday’s meeting, Eulen offered a 7.7% increase, along with €155 on top of the lowest salaries.

Travelers at El Prat over the summer could face further problems if workers responsible for patrols and security checks of airport staff and crew, as well as scanners used for checked luggage, follow up on a threat to call an indefinite strike on August 16.

An employee with Ilunion Seguridad told EL PAÍS that if talks do not progress, “we will go on strike on August 16.” This would mean stoppages between Monday and Friday. Staff at the security firm are demanding a €350 wage hike, as well as calling on the company to hire new personnel.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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