120,000 tourists face chaos if Spanish bag handlers strike
Published 09/08/2011 | 05:00
UP to 120,000 Irish tourists face uncertainty over their holiday plans after baggage handlers in Spain called for two days of strikes across the country's international airports.
Three unions said workers would walk out on August 18 and August 26.
Travel agents in Ireland have warned of potential chaos if the strikes go ahead -- from both disruptions on the days and the knock-on effects of people trying to get on flights when services resume.
The strikes, involving 60,000 employees in Spanish airports, surround the sacking of four workers from a private company which runs the baggage handling service at Barcelona's El Prat airport.
Three of them were later rehired by the same company, WFS, but the unions called the action in support of the fourth worker, who remains out of a job.
Pat Dawson of the Irish Travel Agents' Association (ITAA) said that between 80,000 and 120,000 people would be travelling in and out of Spain on the two days in question.
"It would have a major effect if it did happen and would cause chaos," he said.
August is Spain's busiest month for air travel, with millions of passengers travelling through its airports.
The threat comes as German air traffic controllers were cleared to strike today following a dispute over pay.
Aer Lingus said no changes had been made to its schedule, while Ryanair said the threats in airports rarely go ahead.
Union heads in Spain are meeting today to discuss providing some services at airports.