Italy air strike halts flights

Air transportation workers went on strike for four hours on Monday to protest wage dumping, job insecurity, the lack of a national collective bargaining contract, and the lack of an industrial plan for Alitalia air carrier.

The national strike by pilots and cabin crew, air traffic controllers, maintenance workers, baggage handlers, and catering personnel forced Alitalia to cancel 95 flights, according to RAI public broadcaster.

Alitalia published a list of the cancelled flights and then removed it from its website.

Unions gathered at the Transportation Ministry in Rome to demand “regulations against social dumping, a single national collective bargaining contract for the entire sector, and development and growth for Alitalia,” the Italian Labor Union (UIL) wrote on Twitter.

However, Transportation Minister Danilo Toninelli was not in the building, as he had just flown to Sicily to attend “a two-day event on the island’s most important infrastructural dossiers,” he announced on Twitter.

“Unions believe the sector situation is extremely serious,” said the Italian Federation of Transport Workers (FILT-CGIL) in a statement.

“We called this strike to stop the disintegration of the sector…in defense of stable employment, of dignified jobs with equal pay, and in favor of business growth and competition that is no longer based on lowering prices but on quality of service.”

“The strike was a success,” FILT-CGIL chief Fabrizio Cuscito told ANSA Italian news agency. “Now we need answers on the employment situation and on the Alitalia dispute,” he added.

On March 22, FILT-CGIL had called on the transportation ministry to “summon labor organizations as soon as possible to talk about the Alitalia industrial plan, from which we expect development and no job or wage cuts,” it said in a statement.

Speaking from Sicily on Monday, Toninelli said “the Alitalia dossier is in the home stretch” and that “if everything goes the way I think it will, we will not only rescue (the airline) with ill-spent public money as has been done for years, but we will relaunch it with investors whose core business is to fly planes,” reported ANSA.

The Italian carrier has been under government receivership since May 2017 after going bankrupt due to debt of “about three billion euros”, according to legal documents posted on its corporate website. It has been kept going thanks to two bridge loans from the Italian Treasury.

Alitalia in January posted the 14th consecutive month of growth from passenger revenues, and was ranked the world’s most punctual airline in February with 90.12 percent of flights landing on schedule, the airline said on its corporate website, where it made no mention of Monday’s strike.(1 euro currently equals to 1.13 U.S. dollars)