Strike by Swiss staff hits flights from Geneva
The national carrier, Swiss, has criticised an "illegal" strike by maintenance staff that affected flights out of Geneva on Thursday morning.
The four-hour stoppage came amid growing industrial unrest at the airline, which last month announced plans to axe up to 1,000 jobs by 2007.
Union leaders said 25 maintenance staff downed tools in protest at what they described as "shabby treatment" by management.
Rémy Pagani, secretary of the Public Workers’ Union, said Swiss had failed to respond to a request sent ten days ago for talks on a collective labour contract and the airline’s restructuring plans.
Employees of Swiss Technical Services in Geneva fear they will be hit by flight cutbacks from March 1.
Swiss announced in January that it would cut between 800 and 1,000 jobs over the next 18 months. It also plans to reduce its fleet by 13 aircraft in a bid to cut costs by SFr300 million ($258 million).
Thursday’s industrial action prevented three flights – one to London and two to Zurich – from taking off.
Pagani said the strike was called off after Swiss agreed to talks and assured maintenance staff that destinations served from Geneva would not be scrubbed from the summer timetable.
Swiss said it regretted the "illegal" work stoppage, which had led to one flight being cancelled and replacement aircraft having to be found for the other two affected flights.
It said the strike had had "a moderate impact on flight operations".
Thursday’s industrial action came 24 hours after one of the unions representing ground staff broke off negotiations over a new collective labour contract.
They blamed Swiss management for taking an uncompromising line on plans to freeze salaries, cut holiday entitlement and extend working hours.
Unions warned that they were prepared to take tough action to break the deadlock.
swissinfo with agencies
Switzerland’s national airline made a net loss of SFr140 million ($121 million) in 2004.
This was an improvement on the SFr687 million loss in the previous year.
Swiss announced earlier this month that it is to close three of its four call centres in a bid to reduce costs by SFr6 million ($5 million) a year.
The move, which will affect 140 jobs, forms part of the restructuring programme announced in January.
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