Friday 24 January 2020

Travel chaos in the air for holidaymakers as Barcelona staff strike over pay

Delays: Massive queues at Barcelona Airport. Photo: AP
Delays: Massive queues at Barcelona Airport. Photo: AP

Gerard Couzens

Irish holidaymakers face travel chaos as security staff at Barcelona Airport launch an all-out strike today after they rejected an 11th-hour attempt to avert the industrial action.

Workers at Eulen, the private firm which operates scanners, controls queues and searches passengers, voted for a second time to reject a regional government-proposed wage increase.

The decision means a full strike will now go ahead following a series of mini-strikes which have led to long queues for travellers.

Yesterday's vote, which followed a resounding 'yes' in favour of full strike action at a first vote on Thursday, had been described as a "last opportunity" by Spain's Development Minister Inigo de la Serna.

Irish and British holidaymakers are now expected to face lengthy queues at Barcelona's busy El Prat Airport, although the full effect of the strike will not become apparent until the first day of full-out industrial action has kicked in.

It is anticipated Eulen workers will honour government-ordered minimum services of 90pc and extra civil guard will be drafted in to try to minimise disruption.

But travellers keen to make sure they make their flights on time are expected to turn up several hours earlier than normal and cause knock-on effects for other areas of the airport, including the check-in zones.

Mr de la Serna said on Friday extra civil guard officers would be sent to the airport to "guarantee the security of Spanish travellers and tourists".

His announcement came after the government called a crisis meeting in response to the chaos at the airport.

He said after the meeting the country was on "terrorist alert" and added: "Security cannot be put at risk as a result of the behaviour of some people.

"The responsibility of the civil guard is to prevent any problems of this type.

"The situation is not good, not promising. The hope is that an agreement can be reached, but we have to be realistic."

The 360 Eulen staff who work at Barcelona's El Prat Airport are demanding a 30pc salary increase, which has been rejected by company bosses.

The offer they rejected yesterday was mainly based around a wage increase of €200 a month.

Irish Independent

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