Iberia cancelled up to 240 flights on Monday after talks with pilots broke down and the union decided a seven-day strike over plans to launch a budget carrier. The airline has posted lists of cancelled flights on its website for each of the seven days of the strike.
The pilots union SEPLA said in a statement that negotiations had broken down early on Monday after Iberia’s management would not guarantee to secure pilots wage increases to the age of 65, guarantee pilots jobs and other economic guarantees.
The strike began at midnight Sunday local time after last-ditch talks failed to persuade pilots their jobs were not in danger.
The 240 flights hit mainly served destinations within Spain.
Statement from Iberia:
Iberia has offered assurances of employment to all its pilots, backed by the Ministry of Labour.
Throughout the meetings with representatives of the SEPLA pilots union yesterday and today, Iberia has offered the union an agreement which would guarantee employment to all pilots on Iberia’s staff, assuring that none would be affected as a result of Iberia’s stake in the low-cost Catair carrier.
As a second guarantee, Iberia is ready to accept the oversight and enforcement of the agreement by the Ministry of Labour, so that no Iberia pilots can feel that their jobs are in jeopardy because of Iberia’s participation on the new Barcelona-based point-to-point airline. In addition, as a third guarantee, Iberia has agreed that a committee be formed, with participation by the Ministry of Transport, to analyse the impact of the development of the new airline on pilots’ employment.
In response, the SEPLA union has made one aberrant demand after another, including enormous bank guarantees, assurances of huge compensation packages and other types of unusual demands without precedent in the legal system of Spain or any other country.
Meanwhile, and with the aim of winning such unheard of concessions, which could never be accepted by any company, SEPLA has called a week-long strike during the week with the greatest passenger traffic of the entire year, causing the cancellation of 1,600 flights, which would affecting some 200,000 customers, and cost Iberia around 35 million euros, the equivalent of one third of its entire operating profit in 2005.
Once again Iberia wishes to convey to its customers that it will do everything in its power to minimise the inconvenience caused by this illegal and unfair strike, and that thousands of Iberia employees are working to offset the consequences of an abusive action carried out by a group representing only 7.5% of Iberia’s staff.