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Iberia Airline Strikes "Possible" in Feb

Source: Bloomberg - Thu 31st Jan 2013
Iberia Airline Strikes 'Possible' in Feb

Iberia Airlines look set to see call for strike action in February following a breakdown in talks between unions and management at the BA sister company.

The failure of negotiations involving Iberia and 6 major labor groups "poses a serious threat to the company, to Spanish institutions and to the tourism industry," Manuel Atienza, a spokesman for the UGT union, said today.

Willie Walsh, CEO of Iberia's parent company IAG, said in November he inended to cut 4,500 jobs, more than 20% of all employees, in a bid to stem losses.

A revised plan eliminating 3,147 posts and offering improved salary terms was rejected by unions today.

Strike action could begin as early as Feb. 18thm, and last for 5 days, with unions preparing notification of the plan to Spain's arbitration service, according to the UGT, which represents 39% of Iberia's ground staff and 14% of cabin crew.

IAG, Europe's 3rd biggest carrier, had set today as the deadline for an agreement. Under the latest offer from Iberia, pay would be cut by 23% for cabin crew and pilots and 11% for ground workers, versus an original target of between 25 - 35% for all categories.

Iberia proposed reducing capacity by 10%, rather than the 15% targeted by IAG. The Madrid-based unit said it would also apply early retirement and other incentives if workers agreed to proposals.

IAG's board discussed the savings plan for Iberia last week and is due to gather again tomorrow, according to a Jan. 24 statement forwarded by spokeswoman Lorena Monsalves, who declined to comment further on the meeting.

Iberia's SEPLA pilots union, which wasn't one of the 6 unions to exit talks today, appealed to Walsh earlier this week, saying it's willing to cooperate to help prop up the Madrid-based carrier.

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