Police line up in front of check-in desks during Monday’s protest at Malaga Airport. :: Antonio Salas
Malaga. Iberia ground staff staged the first of three five-day strike this week, affecting around 35 flights at Malaga airport.
Workers were called to down tools in reaction to the announcement of a mass redundancy plan to affect around 3,800 workers all over Spain, 19 per cent of the workforce. This “restructuring” scheme follows Iberia’s merger with British Airways.
In Madrid on Monday five people were arrested in disturbances at Barajas Airport after thousands of workers protested in the terminal building.
The first day of the strike affected eight flights due to arrive in or depart from Malaga. These were four Vueling flights between Malaga and Barcelona, two Iberia Express links with Madrid and two British Airways connections with London City.
In fact the majority of the flights affected by the strike in Malaga this week were connections with Madrid and Barcelona.
Iberia sources said on Monday that 85 per cent of affected passengers had been found seats on other flights. The rest had the option of changing their tickets to travel with the same company on a different day or asking for a refund.
Around 200 workers joined the peaceful protest in Malaga’s departures hall, shouting slogans such as “Iberia is not for sale” or “We want to work”.
An Iberia steward with 28 years’ experience summed up their frustration: “Before the merger with British Airways the company was profitable and four years later we’re making losses; bad management is to blame for this situation, and this, what’s more, is no longer done from Spain but from the United Kingdom,” he said.
Braulio_Rizo is secretary of the company’s union committee. “We fear that the redundancies could affect between 60 and 80 Iberia workers at Malaga Airport,” he said, calculating that on Monday around 1,000 passengers were held up by the action, a figure thought to have risen to 5,000 by the end of today (Friday).
Rizo also criticised the “abusive” minimum services established by the authorities, stating that the workers had filed a complaint with the Labour Inspection department.
Five-day strikes have also been planned for March 4th to 8th and March 18th to 22nd. From March 4th Iberia pilots are expected to join the protest.
Passengers whose flights have been cancelled have the right to alternative transport provided they have not asked for a refund, says AESA (State Air Security Agency). The alternative does not have to be with the same airline and could include other means of transport. The airline is obliged to provide assistance until the departure of the alternative transport. Passengers are advised to keep receipts (hotels, food, etc) in order to claim back expenses incurred while waiting.
Pie de photo: Police line up in front of check-in desks during Monday’s protest at Malaga Airport. :: Antonio Salas