The aviation industry has traditionally had a very strong and vocal trade union movement and this year is proving to be no different, especially throughout Europe. We’ve seen a number of European aviation trade unions either threaten or suggest strike action and there are active negotiations at a number of airlines across the continent.
Ryanair is facing down the prospect of pilot strikes in both the UK and Ireland, as well as cabin crew strikes in Portugal and Spain. Meanwhile, British Airways is still locked in talks with its pilots after losing a High Court battle to stop potential strike action – although the airline did successfully negotiate a new pay deal with cabin crew and ground staff.
Then there are French airline staff who are unhappy with proposed pension reforms, a nasty dispute over union recognition and contract negotiations is simmering away at Germany’s Lufthansa group and a couple of months ago, SAS took a hit from a well-publicised pilots strike.
If that wasn’t enough, the possibility of strike action has extended across to several major airports, including a stoppage at Heathrow which could have brought one of Europe’s busiest airports to a grinding halt. And this is all just the tip of the iceberg with many other disputes affecting smaller airlines and third-party contracting companies.
Yet there’s still seems room for another dispute with the potential to cause quite a bit of disruption. Two branches of the same trade union that represents Iberia’s ground workers in Barcelona and Madrid have both announced strike dates in August.
Workers at Madrid Barajas are planning a two-day stoppage on the 30th and 31st August, while Iberia ground staff intend to hold strikes on 24th, 25th, 30th and 31st of August.
The UGT Iberia Barajas union announced its intention to strike yesterday citing failed negotiations over a new contract and other workplace improvements. The Barcelona branch of the same union released strike dates yesterday following a breakdown in mediation talks with Iberia.
Iberia Airport Service personnel in the Northern Spanish city of Bilbao have also voted in favour of strike action, although no dates have yet been confirmed.
It’s notable that these strikes are being called at IAG Group airline – which also own British Airways. Iberia has been subjected to extensive cost-cutting measures over the years to turn its performance around, although those measures haven’t always been welcomed by staff.
For now, the industrial strife affecting the European aviation industry this Summer continues.