Following the conclusion of the cent strike action by ground service workers at Iberia Airlines, with no resolution, the dispute looks set to continue with more industrial action expected.

The initial strike, from January 5 to 8, was marked by tense negotiations and unresolved issues between the company and the unions. The clock is now ticking, with union forces threatening Iberia with an indefinite strike starting on January 24.

On January 24, unions, including CCOO, UGT, and USO, are poised to launch an indefinite strike against Iberia’s handling services.

This comes after the initial strike, which coincided with the busy Three Kings’ Day and Christmas return travel period, ended without a resolution. Reportedly, unless an agreement is reached soon, the unions plan to increase pressure by launching another strike.

The unions have expressed frustration with Iberia for not re-engaging in discussions since their last meeting. They predict a breakthrough might occur as they start using corporate channels formally to declare the strike.

Furthermore, the unions have accused Iberia of procrastinating in addressing their demands, which were communicated months ago. ‘We have not had formal or informal contact with them since the last meeting,’ a union representative stated.

On its part, Iberia has shown a willingness to negotiate but remains firm in its stance on ‘auto handling’. The airline has refused to service its IAG group airlines at eight airports where it lost the Aena concession.

According to Iberia, this refusal is due to concerns about creating a significant competitiveness gap. ‘This requirement would open a significant competitiveness gap for the benefit of competition,’ Iberia stated.

The strike has led to a clash over participation rates. While Iberia reported a 14 to 20 per cent participation rate, unions claimed it was as high as 80 per cent at times.

Another major issue has been baggage mishandling, particularly at Barcelona, Bilbao, and Gran Canaria airports. Iberia has acknowledged the problem and is working to transport affected passengers’ luggage by land and air.

CCOO views the strike positively and criticises the minimum services imposed at Madrid-Barajas Airport as ‘abusive’, aiming to ‘wash the image of the “hub”.’ They also highlight the significant impact of flight and luggage delays, particularly on the islands.