Spain's Iberia workers to strike in December

Spanish airline Iberia's staff will strike for six days in December to protest at plans to lay off 4,500 people, a union official said Thursday.

Airline workers will strike on December 14 and from December 17-21, and further dates could be added later if no agreement is reached, Jose Carillo, an official with the major CCOO union, told AFP.

Unions were hoping for a reaction from management, Carillo said. "We are ready to negotiate salary cuts and increased productivity but we don't want outright sackings," he said.

The airline pilots' union SEPLA is in arbitration with Iberia and barred from calling strike action. But individual pilots may still strike on their account "and it seems they want to", said a spokesman for the smaller UGT union, Manuel Atienza.

Loss-making Iberia's parent International Airlines Group (IAG) announced November 9 plans to axe 4,500 jobs and to cut salaries by 25-35 percent.

It said the plan was the only way to save the carrier and safeguard 15,500 posts.

IAG warned more cuts could follow against the backdrop of Spanish and European economic crises, setting a deadline of January 31, 2013 to reach agreement with unions over the cuts.

To stem Iberia's cash losses by mid-2013, the Spanish airline plans to slash its network capacity by 15 percent and downsize its fleet by 25 aircraft, including five long-haul jets.

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