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Cabin crew at Spain’s Iberia Express set to strike for ten days

Madrid-based Iberia Express cabin crew have called for ten days of strike action in August and September over pay increases, adding to already disrupted summer travel in Spain and Europe.

Cabin crew at Spain's Iberia Express set to strike for ten days
Passengers disembark from an Iberia Express flight at Berlin Brandenburg Airport Willy Brandt in July 2022. Photo: John MACDOUGALL/AFP

In what has become a summer of strike action, industrial disputes are affecting travel of all forms across Europe.

In Spain, however, the walkouts have been very largely concentrated in the aviation sector with pilot and cabin crew strikes at both Ryanair and EasyJet causing delays and cancellations throughout the summer.

To further add to the already chaotic summer of travel, cabin crew at the low-coast branch of Iberia – Iberia Express – have now joined their industry colleagues and called for strike action.

READ MORE: Ryanair cabin crew in Spain begin latest round of strike action

Backed by the USO and SITCPLA unions, over 500 Madrid-based Iberia Express cabin crew staff are set to walk out for ten days of strike action that will begin on August 28th and is scheduled to last until at least September 6th, in order to “unblock the negotiation of the airline’s collective agreement,” according to unions.

As with other airlines, union bosses are demanding a salary review to get pay in line with Spain’s historic inflation and because Iberia Express staff have had their wages frozen for the last seven years.

Like the Ryanair and EasyJet disputes, unions are fighting for pay increases amid an inflation-triggered cost of living crisis combined with worsening working conditions, hours and contracts prompted by the surge in travel after the end of COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions. Many airlines cut staff numbers to try and stay afloat during the pandemic and are now struggling to cope with demand.

READ MORE: Rate of inflation in Spain reaches highest level in 37 years

Unions are also calling for the consolidation of a 6.5 percent salary increase corresponding to 2021 for all staff, the creation of a seniority bonus, and two salary levels with a 11 percent and 4 percent percent increases respectively.

“We are very disappointed with Iberia Express’s management, which showed it doesn’t keep its word and doesn’t respect workers who have struggled to keep the company afloat,” unions said in a statement.

READ MORE: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

Iberia Express representatives described the proposed strike action as “incomprehensible” and reinforced that negotiations are ongoing.

“We’re confident the strike can be avoided and that we can keep talking to guarantee stability and offer a good service to our customers,” Iberia Express management said in response. 

Iberia Express connects Madrid with 40 cities across Europe. Unless an agreement is made between employers and unions, flights could be affected on August 28th, 29th, 30th, and 31st, and September 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Spain’s free train tickets to continue throughout 2023

The Spanish government has announced that its free multi-journey train ticket scheme, which was created in a bid to help commuters fight inflation, will be extended for another year until at least December 2023.

Spain's free train tickets to continue throughout 2023

Spain’s Budget Minister María Jesús Montero made the announcement on Tuesday October 4th during the presentation of Spain’s General State Budgets for 2023.

The free train travel offer came into force on September 1st and was originally due to end on December 31st 2022, but Montero has now confirmed it will be extended until at least December 2023 when the measure’s economic and environmental impact will be evaluated. 

The offer is available on trains operated by the state-owned train network Renfe, including Cercanías, Rodalies (in Catalonia), and Media Distancia (local and medium-distance journeys).

Crucially, it’s only offered on special multi-journey tickets, not on single journeys or high-speed AVE trains. 

 GUIDE: How to get free train tickets in Spain

In order to obtain the free travel offer, passengers must pay a €10 deposit on Cercanías or Rodalies and a €20 deposit on Media Distancia trains. The deposit will be returned at the end of the year if at least 16 trips have been made during the initial four months.

Now that the offer has been extended, however, it is unclear exactly how many trips travellers will have to make to get their deposits back going forward into 2023.

READ ALSO: Spain changes conditions for free train travel

Since the start of the free ticket plan, trips on Media Distancia trains grew by 40 percent since September 2022 and on Cercanías trains by 24 percent.

So far, 1.5 million free multi-journey tickets have already been requested and the goal is to reach 2 million during the rest of the year.

In order to finance the original measure, the government confirmed that €221 million would be allocated to regional governments and transport authorities across the country. More may now be needed in order to extend it. 

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