Iberia workers to go on 5-day strike later in February

MADRID/LONDON Fri Feb 1, 2013 11:54am EST

Iberia airplanes and a passenger are reflected on the windows at Madrid's Barajas airport November 29, 2012. REUTERS/Susana Vera

Iberia airplanes and a passenger are reflected on the windows at Madrid's Barajas airport November 29, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Susana Vera

MADRID/LONDON (Reuters) - Workers at Spanish flag carrier Iberia will hold five straight days of strike action in the second half of February after failing to come to an agreement with management over job cuts, a labour union spokesman said on Friday.

"It will be at least five consecutive days ... the date hasn't been set yet (but) it will be in the second half of February," the spokesman said.

Unions representing Iberia's ground and cabin crews rejected a fresh proposal by management on job and salary cuts on Thursday and said they planned to strike.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of loss-making Iberia's parent International Airlines Group (ICAG.L) - which also includes the British Airways brand - said he was disappointed no agreement had been reached and the airline would press ahead with a planned rationalisation.

"Iberia is ready and willing to negotiate with the trade unions," he said. "We are determined .. to implement the necessary changes to secure the future survival and viability of Iberia".

The company said in light of the failure to reach agreement, it would press ahead with its previously stated plan to reduce capacity by 15 percent this year, by focusing on profitable routes and reducing its fleet by 25 aircraft, rather than the 10 percent it had put forward in negotiations.

The group will also implement alternative plans to return Iberia to break-even, in terms of operating cash flow, by the second half of this year and restore it to an "acceptable" level of profitability by 2015.

Unions rejected IAG's offer to reduce job cuts at the Spanish airline by 30 percent to 3,147 and lower wage reductions.

Iberia, which has suffered periodic strikes since it announced the creation of budget arm Iberia express, has estimated it loses 1 million euros for every day crew strike. (Reporting by Robert Hetz in Madrid and Paul Sandle in London; Writing by Clare Kane; Editing by David Holmes)