Feb.18 - Workers at the troubled Spanish airline Iberia storm Barajas airport in Madrid as they begin a five-day strike in protest at planned cuts to jobs and salaries. Hayley Platt reports.
Scuffles at Madrid's main airport as a strike turns nasty. Iberia airline workers stormed the building. It's day one of a five day strike over pay cuts and the loss of 3,800 jobs. The action follows Iberia's merger with British Airways in 2011. The combined International Airlines Group has been trying to revamp its Spanish operation ever since. This is the latest in a string of disputes and the biggest yet - it involves pilots, cabin crew and baggage handlers. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) IBERIA INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT) STAFF MEMBER, LOLA, SAYING: "The people that have to leave will get poor redundancy packages while those that stay will have to take cuts of up to 60 percent of their salaries." Iberia reported a loss of 262 million euros in the first nine months of 2012. Its budget service Iberia Express is the main problem. It's been hit by a depressed economy at home and stiff competition from the likes of Ryanair and Easyjet. But the unions says the cuts are unfair and two more five day walkouts are planned for March. (SOUNDBITE)(Spanish) EDUARDO GARCIA, MEMBER OF SPANISH UNION COMISIONES OBRERAS (CCOO), SAYING: "Workers have no other option but to take radical action. They've got a plan on the table that, for the first time in Iberia's history, will cut twenty per cent of the company's workforce." 1,000 flights will be grounded over the next few days. 70,000 passengers will be inconvenienced - many of them British travellers trying to get away for the school holidays. The airline says it has found alternative flights for most customers or offered refunds. But it's estimated the 15 days of action could cost Iberia up to 100 million euros - not to mention the damage to Spain's struggling economy.