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Iberia Pilots refuse to attend airline meeting

Source: El Pais - Tue 20th Nov 2012
Iberia Pilots refuse to attend airline meeting

Iberia's SEPLA Pilots union today refused to attend a meeting scheduled with airline executives to negotiate a restructuring plan that involves the redundancies of around 25% of the workforce and wage cuts of up to 47%, arguing that it was "essential" to wait for a decision on the group's budget division Iberia Express.

Iberia's pilots held a series of one-day strikes earlier this year to protest over the creation of Iberia Express, arguing that it was a back-door ploy to push wages down at the parent company. SEPLA also voiced concerns that Iberia itself could eventually become a low-cost division of IAG, the holding company for its merger with BA.

The government appointed arbitrator, Jaime Montalvo, ruled that Iberia was within its rights to set up Iberia Express, set up salary scales for both companies and imposed a freeze on wages until the end of 2014. However, the High Court earlier this month annulled the ruling following a complaint by Iberia Express that, as an interested party to the dispute, it was not present at any of the mediation meetings.

IAG has planned a transformation plan for loss-making Iberia that entails 4,500 job cuts, about 23% of its total workforce. The restructuring also involves a reorganization of the airline's structure that includes farming out handling activities to IAG Cargo.

IAG has threatened even more drastic measures in the absence of an agreement with labor representatives on the restructuring by the deadline of January 31.

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