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Sabena talks fail again

Unions and management at Sabena remain at loggerheads Keystone Archive

Management and unions at the Belgian carrier Sabena - which is half owned by Swissair - have failed again to agree on a restructuring plan aimed at keeping the airline in business. The breakdown in talks comes a day after Swissair itself agreed a restructuring plan that will cost thousands of jobs over the next three years.

Sabena had set a deadline of Sunday afternoon for agreement on the plan aimed at making the company profitable by 2005 but the two sides turned to a state-appointed mediator when no breakthrough emerged. The mediator re-started negotiations on Monday evening but talks ended without a deal early on Tuesday.

A spokesman for one of the unions involved blamed Sabena’s management for the failure of the negotiations. Karel Gacoms said Sabena was not willing to give those made redundant under the plan sufficient compensation.

Under the proposed restructuring programme, 1600 people are expected to lose their jobs as Sabena cancels several European and long-haul flights and cuts its fleet.

The carrier’s two shareholders, Swissair and the Belgian government, agreed in July a final €430 million ($393 million) capital injection into the airline. The Belgian minister responsible said on Tuesday that no more money would be pumped into Sabena.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI swissinfo.ch - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR