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Groundforce strike at Gran Canaria airport suspended this Wednesday, negotiations continue Friday.

Groundforce strike at Gran Canaria airport suspended this Wednesday, negotiations continue Friday.

The Groundforce baggage handling staff strike committee at Gran Canaria airport reported, on Tuesday, a further suspension to the call for work stoppages scheduled for this Wednesday. The company and its workers are expected to resume negotiations on Friday, under mediation from the Labour Inspectorate, to try to reach an agreement. The president of the works council, Juan Agustín Viera, has said he hopes that a solution will be put on the table, in the next meeting, that will satisfy both sides and help resolve the conflict. However, until a consensus is reached, the workers say they will maintain the call to strike for this weekend, between 12 noon and midnight, and if a settlement is not found, they will strike continually, without interruption, from Monday.

The strike committee says they suspended the strike out of a sense of “responsibility” and to “try to do the least possible damage to the economy and the image of Gran Canaria.”

Viera maintains that all negotiation channels remain open and they continue to participate at the negotiating table “to try to solve their problems of non-compliance with the agreement as soon as possible.” According to the president of the works council, the most delicate aspects of the conflict still need to be resolved, since they have chosen to start the negotiation on the least cumbersome points, so as not to block dialogue with the company from the beginning.

The strike, backed by members of the State Coordinator of the Air and Handling Sector (CESHA) -majority union-, the General Labour Confederation (CGT), Union Sindical Obrera (USO) and Airport Handling Workers’ Unions (STHA), began on September 4, intermittently on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but from the 20th of this month will become “indefinite”.

Groundforce as a company are in charge of “handling” services for about twenty airlines, most of which operate international flights, loading and unloading luggage at Gran Canaria airport, together with Iberia. The handling workers have accused the company of refusing to engage with their concerns, however the company, last Tuesday, has now officially requested mediation from the Government of the Canary Islands, which referred the case to the Ministry of Labour. Employees emphasise that, despite air connectivity having been recovering and activity in Gando returning to normal, 95% of the airport’s workforce – representing about 350 people – is still in partial ERTE, the Spanish Furlough scheme, yet the company opts to hire temporary personnel to alleviate the lack of staff on days with the highest volume of flights.

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