Timon .:. | Fri, September 24, 2021 | 0
Groundforce baggage handlers’ strikes expected at Gran Canaria airport every Wednesday and Saturday until at least September 20
Passengers on more than 18 flights had to fly without their luggage last Saturday because of the intermittent strike action at Gran Canaria’s main commercial airport, in an action expected to be repeated on Wednesdays and Saturdays until the 20th of September, when, they say, it will become an indefinite feature of the industrial action called by the Baggage Handling and Air Sector State Coordinator (CESHA) -majority union-, as well as by the General Labor Confederation (CGT), Union Sindical Obrera (USO) and Trade Airport Handling Workers Unions (STHA)
Airport authority AENA reported delays in the delivery of suitcases and passengers who had to fly without their luggage, as some of the main incidents that occurred at Gran Canaria airport following the first day of strike by Groundforce workers, the company that working together with Iberia is in charge of “handling” services at the airport.
The twelve-hour strike, which ended at midnight on Sunday, generated many more incidents, according to one member of the strike committee, Juan Agustín Viera, the protest affected more than 90% of the twenty flights operated by airlines they serve, with many delays in takeoffs and disembarkations of passengers, as well as extra waits of up to an hour and a half inside the plane, among other incidents.
According to Viera, passengers on more than 18 flights had to fly without their luggage.
GroundForce are part of the Globalia group and the second most active airside services company at Gran Canaria (LPA), in terms of volume.
The intermittent strike is set to continue until the 20th, when it will officially become “indefinite”, and has been called by the Handling and Air Sector State Coordinator (CESHA) -majority union-, as well as by the General Labour Confederation (CGT), Union Sindical Obrera (USO) and Airport Handling Workers Unions (STHA) to demand improvements in working conditions in the face of repeated “non-compliance” with the collective agreement, Viera stressed.
AENA has indicated that the minimum services were met on this first day of protest, which will continue on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturdays from 12 a.m. to noon until September 18, on Sunday 19 the work stoppages will also be from noon to midnight and from Monday 20 will become indefinite, according to the wording of the call to strike, which affects about 350 workers.
Workers Committee leader Viera has described the minimum services expected as “abusive” and explained that successive “breaches of the agreement have resulted in a lack of family conciliation, inadequate breaks, rotations of the rotas decided by the company unilaterally”, and, above all, a situation of “high job insecurity and a lack of personnel.”
“The workers have made a major effort helping the company, to avoid greater economic losses that could produce a technical bankruptcy and as a consequence destruction of employment.
Therefore, now that the situation has changed due to increased activity on flights, we ask the company to comply with and respect our working conditions that are regulated by our collective agreement”.
The union representative has asserted that the company has not negotiated with the workers committee since the beginning of the pandemic, last March 2020, when the staff entered ERTE (Spanish furlough system) due to force majeure, and that despite the increase in activity at the airport, 95% of the workers are still on ERTE at least partially, and other temporary personnel have been hired.
All this has led to an increase in job insecurity and an increase in the accident rate, added Viera, who has complained that the facilities at the airport are “obsolete”, the rest rooms for workers do not meet the necessary sanitary conditions in the face of covid-19 and also distancing measures are not fulfilled in the airside enclosure, which is why many work in fear and with a lot of anxiety.
Workers themselves are said to be unhappy about the strike because of the damage it causes to the image of the company, the island and tourism, and, in their opinion, it could have been avoided, since the last meeting with the works council was last August 30 and they had plenty of time to negotiate.
AENA has reported that Groundforce covers about twenty airlines at the Gran Canaria airport that operate international flights.
FEHT calls for RESOLUTION OF THE CONFLICT IN THE AEROPUERTO DE GRAN CANARIA
The Las Palmas Federation of Hotel and Tourism Employers, FEHT, have said in a statement, this Tuesday, that they hope for a solution, on the initiative of the company, to resolve the ongoing workforce dispute at Gran Canaria airport, which has affected baggage handling services company “GroundForce”, and which threatens to continue with intermittent strikes that began last week, to be continued on Wednesdays and Saturdays for the next few weeks; by requesting mediation with the Labor Authority, which has proposed to the Strike Committee that they too appoint a mediator, who can promote an agreement between the parties.
The Federation, through vice president, Tom Smulders (pictured), in addition to having insisted on the need for mediation, has warned of the risks of delaying this conflict situation, which may affect tourist accommodation reservations, and could produce systematic cancellations and diversion of scheduled bookings to other destinations.
The proposal of a mediator as a catalyst for a possible solution has been valued very positively by the FEHT, a proposal that it hopes will be accepted shortly by the Strike Committee and with it the start of negotiations and the unblocking of this situation. allowing the immediate return to normality of the service, all for the good of the tourist destination, which is currently going through a critical phase in its recovery.