New strike postponed at Barcelona’s El Prat airport, but long lines persist

Security staff in charge of checked baggage and entrances call off stoppage in “gesture of good faith”

Security staff who patrol the entrances of Barcelona’s El Prat airport and supervise checked baggage have decided to postpone a strike they were planning to start on September 1. The employees, who work for a company called Ilunion, are demanding more staff to be laid on during busy travel periods and an increase of their monthly salaries of up to €350.

Lines today at El Prat airport in Barcelona.
Lines today at El Prat airport in Barcelona.Quique García (EFE)
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The announcement will come as a relief for the management of and passengers at El Prat, which has seen severe delays this week caused by industrial action by the staff that man the metal detectors at security checkpoints.

The decision by the USOC union, which was calling for the Ilunion strike, came as a “gesture of good faith” after mediation in the dispute by the Catalan regional government, which saw the company make a proposal on which both parties can negotiate. Ilunion has proposed organizational improvements and a bonus of €100 for new employees.

“We hope that we will not have to strike on September 1 and that we can reach an agreement with the company beforehand,” said Francisco Mosegui, of the works committee. José Velasco, a representative from Ilunion, said that the company has been working for some time to improve the working conditions for its employees.

Long lines continue

Meanwhile, the other labor dispute at El Prat is close to coming to an end after successful negotiations on Tuesday. The industrial action by Eulen employees, who manage airport security, is also over pay and conditions, and has seen official stoppages called as well as an undercover “go-slow” strike.

Yesterday, the Catalan regional government mediated negotiations between both parties and presented a proposal that was accepted both by Eulen and AENA, the Spanish airports authority and will be presented to employees. The offer includes a significant increase in personnel, including adding a fifth guard in every security line. It also raised the salary increase to an average of 11%, which comes to an increase of up to €200 per month. So far, the company had only offered €150, with the workers committee asking for €350.

But although the conflict appears to be close to resolution, the long lines at the airport continued today, with passengers having to wait as long as an hour to clear security on Wednesday morning.

One of the gestures from Eulen in a bid to bring the conflict to an end has been to suspend sanctions against the workers taking part in the slowdown strike, as well as dropping a lawsuit against the strike committee for having illegally called the stoppages. The court hearing was scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday.

Juan Carlos Giménez, an advisor to the striking staff, predicted a “tough” meeting and said he did not think the workers would accept the government’s proposal. “Not only did we go from €350 to €200, but they also cut our [yearly salary] payments from 15 to 12,” said Giménez.

The strike committee has said it will not be stopping the strike, regardless of what comes out to the assembly, until airports authority AENA promises in writing that labor improvements are guaranteed when the contract next comes up for tender.

English version by Debora Almeida.


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