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Strikes over wages and inflation ground flights in Portugal, Spain

An Airbus A330-300 airplane takes off from Lisbon Airport on June 18, 2022. (File photo by AFP)

Tourism sector workers in Portugal and Spain have gone on strike over low wages and high inflation, forcing airlines to cancel more than a hundred flights during the peak holiday season.

Three separate walkouts by airline pilots, cabin crew, and baggage handling workers were underway on Sunday in the two European countries during one of the busiest weekends of the year, according to reports.

Airlines warned passengers to expect delays and disruptions and to keep an eye on travel updates.

EasyJet pilots, who are members of the Spanish union SELPA, have planned 72 hours of strike action from Saturday to Monday at easyJet bases in Spain.

Spanish unions, USO and Sitcpla, have also called for 1,600 workers belonging to the Ryanair, Crewlink, and Workforce companies to take part in a series of weekly walk-outs from Monday to Thursday over Ryanair’s refusal to negotiate a new collective agreement. 

These walk-outs are planned to continue until January 7, 2023.

Cabin crew working for Madrid-based airline Iberia Express have called for strike action over ten days, from Sunday to Tuesday.

The strikers are demanding higher wages to meet the rising cost of living after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, around 60 flights were canceled at Lisbon airport on Sunday, the last day of a strike by handling workers that has caused disruption to summer travel at Portugal’s main airports since Friday, according to data from national airports operator ANA.

The data showed 31 arrivals and 28 departures had been canceled on Sunday at the country's busiest airport.

Pedro Figueiredo, spokesman for the National Union for Civil Aviation Workers, was quoted as saying that between 70 and 80 Lisbon flights were expected to be canceled on Sunday and 30 to 40 at Porto airport.

He further said that around 90 percent of Portway’s ramp operations workers at Lisbon and Porto airports were taking part in the three-day strike.

“While the strike has been successful in terms of purpose, impact, and visibility, issues remain unresolved,” he noted. “In the coming days, our union will evaluate the results of this strike and we may adopt new forms of the fight."

The tourism workers are demanding the pre-pandemic conditions and the resumption of talks for a new collective agreement.

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