Cabin crew at the Italian flag carrier, Alitalia are set to go on strike… again. But this strike could be over an issue that would leave flight attendants from other international airlines scratching their heads with disbelief. Alitalia staff are unhappy with new rules that will see them cleaning toilets on long-haul flights.
The strike, which was first reported in The Daily Telegraph newspaper is set to go ahead for a period of 24 hours from midnight on the 23rd February 2017.
Flight attendants on long-haul flights have been asked to “tidy the bathrooms, and replenish soap and toilet paper”. The extra responsibilities are part of the New Alitalia management shakeup that was designed to radically improve the passenger experience and bring Alitalia more in line with its international rivals for customer service.
However, long-haul cabin crew haven’t taken kindly to the demands being made of them by bosses. Despite, the fact that Alitalia flight attendants on short-haul and European flights are already responsible for cleaning washrooms between flights.
The attitude of Alitalia flight attendants could easily confuse their counterparts at other international carriers including major shareholder, Etihad Airways. Cabin crew at the 5-Star Skytrax airline are expected to keep washrooms in pristine condition – even during the longest flights such as the 16-hour journey from Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles.
Alitalia has been battling mounting losses and recently secured a new round of short-term funding. Bosses have been trying to get the trade unions to agree to a series of ‘deep cost reduction measures’ in a bid to lower costs and win over backers for more long-term funding.
Although the toilet cleaning dispute is the one making the headlines it’s understood that Alitalia cabin crew have grave concerns about their long-term future at the company. Redundancies, pay cuts and changes to the employee pension plan are all issues that have triggered the strike.
Alitalia’s Chief Executive Officer, Cramer Ball said in December: “The next two months are critical for Alitalia.”
He continued: “It is vitally important that the airline’s workforce and major stakeholders, such as corporate partners, suppliers and unions, embrace and accept the radical changes we need in order to gain the next round of significant funding from our shareholders, which will be crucial for our future.”
Alitalia was forced to deny reports that up to 2,000 employees could be axed over the radical cost-reduction plans. Instead, the carrier has simply reaffirmed that staff numbers will be reduced under what it calls its ‘right size and right shape’ programme.