January peak holiday ground staff strike going ahead across Spain. | Miguel Toña


The unions are going ahead with the Iberia handling strike planned for January 5, 6, 7 and 8, in the middle of the Epiphany weekend, after the mediation meeting held today ( Thursday) ended without an agreement.

Although the strike has been called off twice, on the one hand by the CCOO and UGT unions and, subsequently, by USO, a single mediation meeting was held today with all the convening unions.
Following the lack of agreement at the meeting, Iberia has “deeply regretted” the unions’ refusal to call off the strike and reiterated its willingness to dialogue.

However, it has warned that, in order to make progress in any kind of negotiation, “it maintains its essential condition that the strikes are called off, which will cause unnecessary and unjustified damage to the thousands of travellers returning from their Epiphany holidays”.

The airline has also insisted that the V Agreement of the handling sector “absolutely guarantees all jobs, as well as all salary and non-wage conditions for life in a process of subrogation”.
UGT and CCOO announced last Friday that they were resuming the strike, initially planned for 29-31 December, which had been suspended in order to continue negotiating with the company, with the presence of the Ministry of Transport.

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However, no agreement was reached in that forum either, so they reactivated their protest, which comes after Iberia lost the handling service in eight of the country’s main airports (Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Malaga, Alicante, Gran Canaria, Tenerife Sur, Ibiza and Bilbao), although it kept Madrid, in the tender awarded by the airport manager Aena in September.

This means that workers at each of the airports where Iberia will cease to operate will have to be subrogated to the winning companies (Groundforce, owned by Globalia, Aviapartners and Menzies).
The unions do not want this subrogation because it means leaving the Iberia umbrella, although they are covered by the sector agreement, and ask the company to do ‘autohandling’ for all the companies of the IAG group - to which it belongs along with British Airways, Vueling, Aer Lingus and Level.

However, the airline discards this because it has higher costs than contracting the handling service with third parties and assures that it would lead it to lose positions with its competitors.
After the decision taken by CCOO and UGT to resume the mobilisation, the following day, on 23 December, USO announced its call for a four-day strike in Iberia’s handling services in defence of a viability plan that guarantees the future of this business within the airline.

USO sources have pointed out, after Thursday’s meeting, that the “absolutely intransigent position of the company’s representatives, who went so far as to say that either we previously called off the strike or they would not sit down to negotiate, obliges us to go ahead with the strike”.