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Iberia staff to strike in Christmas lead-up

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Staff at Spain’s national carrier Iberia will be striking in December to protest against airline plans to slash workforce numbers by around a quarter.

Unionised staff at the national carrier will walk off the job on the 14,17,18,19,20 and 21 of December to vent their anger at management plans to scrap 4,500 jobs and cut the salaries of remaining staff by as much as 35 per cent.

The unions say they have chosen the six days of their strike to minimise disruption to Christmas traffic and avoid busy weekend periods. Ground crew and cabin staff will be downing tool but pilots will clock on as usual during the rolling stoppages.

Iberia’s owner International Airlines Group announced a major revamp of the airline’s operations earlier this month in a bid to stop the profit rot. The company reported third quarter operating profits of €270 million this year, down from the €363 million notched up by the company in 2011.

The holding company – also owners of British Airways – said it now planned to stage a return to profits by cutting staff numbers and scaling down Iberia’s network capacity by 15 percent in 2013. They also plan to slim down their fleet by 25 planes and focus on the airline’s most profitable routes.

Responding today to news of the stop-work, Iberia chief executive Rafael Sánchez-Lozano told Europapress: ‘The strike at Iberia is like a hunger strike, if you win you die’. Clearly in combat mode, the airline boss also said he couldn’t see the advantage in a strike that would damage both the product and the brand.

Sánchez-Lozano added that Iberia would take a responsible attitude to talks with staff and was willing to listen to all options including ways to save on job losses ‘given that every person has a mortgage, or a school to pay’. He said, however, that the airline’s objective of return on equity of 12 per cent by 2015 was non-negotiable.

IAG have set a January 31 deadline for unions negotiations over planned changes at the carrier.

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Written by georgemills25

November 29, 2012 at 14:02

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