Flights at the Spanish airline Iberia have been badly affected as a result of 15 days of strikes called by unions protesting against large scale job cuts.
The management of Iberia, which merged with British Airways in January 2011, firstannounced its plan to cut 4,500 of its 19,400 jobs last November.
Because of retirements, the latest plan - which has now been formally presented tothe labour authorities - involves fewer redundancies. However, the company still plansto dismiss 3,807 employees - almost one fifth (19.6%) of the total - by the end of the year.
Management argues that the cuts, which also involve a 15% reduction in Iberia's routes, are necessary to restore the company to profitability. Iberia is also making useof employment law changes introduced a year ago that reduced redundancy compensation to 20 days per year of service, with a maximum of 12 months' pay.
The unions fear that management plans will dismantle the existing company. In a joint statement on 7 February, they argued that the plans are an attack on the company's workforce, which is ready to see pay cuts and productivity improvements.
The strike action has been widely supported. But minimum service requirements, which the government is able to impose (including on 50% of international flights and between 50% and 25% of most national flights) mean that, initially at least, only 40% ofthe flights have been cancelled.
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