Amidst the fears of air delays this summer, comes the reality of a pilots' strike in Spain. The Spanish Union of Airline Pilots (SEPLA) announced yesterday that members will be taking strike action this summer and the calendar of industrial protests stretches until the end of August. A total of ten 24-hour stoppages have been called, the first on June 19, continuing on July 3, 10, 17 and 24 and then on August 6, 13, 20, 27 and 30. Flights scheduled to take off the day before, but reach their destination during strike action will also be affected. The decision was taken by pilots yesterday after state airline Iberia rejected their proposals, which have been on the negotiating table for the past five months. One of the main bones on contention is over pay, contract conditions and a clause introduced in 1995, while Iberia was suffering financially, which translated in to a 20 per cent reduction in wages across the boards. SEPLA members want the so-called “clause 104” to be progressively removed from contracts over the next four years. Pilots are angry over the reductions in the wages, especially now that Iberia is quoted on the stock exchange and is making a profit. SEPLA also wants the airline to sign a collective agreement put forward by pilots. Over the past five months, Iberia has agreed to a wage increase above the rate of inflation and that 0.5 per cent of the airline's profits will be shared out amongst its 18'000 ground staff. However, it appears that the conditions have not been accepted by pilots and the union and the cycle of ten 24-hour stoppages will do little to ensure a smooth summer season at busy Spanish airports such as Palma, the country's busiest charter airport during the summer.

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