Iberia workers to strike before Christmas

Iberia tailfins
Image caption Unions threatened to add more days of strikes if management did not respond to their protests

Employees at the troubled Spanish national airline Iberia are to go on strike in the run-up to Christmas.

Unions representing ground staff and cabin crews voted to hold a six days of stoppages on 14 and 17-21 December.

The industrial action is in protest at plans by International Airlines Group - which owns Iberia and British Airways - to cut 4,500 staff at the Spanish firm.

Earlier this month, the IAG and Iberia heads both said the Spanish airline was "in a fight for survival".

Iberia, which has been hit among other things by a prolonged recession in its home market of Spain, has been suffering record losses, and is unprofitable in all its markets.

The 4,500 job losses represent almost a quarter of Iberia's workforce, but were not as steep as the 7,000 figure that had been expected by the airline's unions prior to IAG's announcement.

However, the restructuring plan also includes pay cuts of between a quarter and a third for the staff being retained.

The airline has set a deadline of 31 January next year to reach agreement with unions over the cuts, failing which it has threatened even bigger cuts in jobs and in the number of flights operated by the airline.

"We are ready to negotiate salary cuts and increased productivity, but we don't want outright sackings," said Jose Carillo, a spokesman of the main CCOO union.

The Spanish pilots' union, Sepla, was not among the six trade unions to vote in favour of the industrial action, because it is currently in industrial arbitration with Iberia, which precludes it from involvement.

However, other union officials suggested that individual pilots may nonetheless choose to join the strikes.

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