UGT union calls airport baggage handling strikes for December in Spain

Image of an airport baggage handler.

Image of an airport baggage handler. Credit: Tyler Olson/Shutterstock

A strike among workers in the handling sector at all airports in the Aena network across Spain has been called by the UGT for December 5 and 10.

The General Union of Workers already announced the call for industrial action last Monday, November 20. It was demanding: ‘real, concrete and clear commitments to avoid the reduction of workers’ rights’ in the sector after the results of Aena’s tender bidding.

Just as the CC OO did, the UGT has filed a complaint with the Central Administrative Court of Contract Appeals requesting the nullity of the tender and access to all documentation.

It reiterated, as it had already stated when contesting the process, that, despite its declaration of intentions: ‘Aena has still not established a real, concrete and clear commitment to act in situations of non-compliance with the agreement, taking into account that it is the main player in the business’.

This union, like CC OO, had already revolted against the result of the tender by calling protests against Aena, which they accuse of making employment at airports more precarious.

What have they accused Aena of?

Aena have been accused of handing over a large part of the handling that Iberia had always done to: ‘operators with a majority of foreign capital and some of them well known in the sector for their repeated non-compliance in labour matters’.

On Friday 24, the UGT assured that: ‘the situation of permanent disputes and conflict of labour relations, which was already unsustainable, is at risk of becoming even more serious after the latest Aena awards, which would cause the movement of thousands of workers from their current companies to others’.

According to the union, all the parties involved – companies and Aena – have not stopped publicly declaring their best intentions these past weeks, but: ‘experience tells us that it is all about that’.

‘Operators systematically force workers to go to the Labour Inspectorate or to court to defend their rights. Some companies have had to pay millions in costs for this and yet they persist. It’s cheaper for them’, said the union.

Iberia also opposed the results of the tendering

The unions are not the only ones to express their discontent with the outcome of this bidding. On October 20, Iberia also presented another claim before the Contractual Appeals Court, claiming that there were ‘irregularities’ in the tendering process in which it lost eight licenses, including those for large airports.

To justify this claim, the airline argued that the legal procedure for processing the file had been violated, which caused it to be rendered powerless.

Along these lines, the airline maintained that the outcome had not been contested in any way. In addition, confidentiality had been invoked to deny Iberia access to ‘sufficient information’ in order to know the reasons for said results. They also affirmed that: ‘the legal deadlines for the delivery of the file have not been complied with’, reported

What did Aena say in its defence?

In the face of this barrage of accusations, Aena countered that all companies operating in its airports must comply with the sectoral agreements in the submission processes and in maintaining the working conditions and salaries of the workers.

It also highlighted the fact that the public tender for the allocation of licences for ground handling services was ‘economically neutral’ for the airport operator.

Aena stated that the handling sector agreement specifically guaranteed that: ‘no worker loses their job and everyone maintains their working and salary conditions’. The company reiterated that: ‘compliance with this agreement is mandatory’.

The airport manager explained that the result of the allocation of handling licenses was the result of a ‘transparent and objective’ public tender, which emanated from a European directive. Aena added that it was responsible for this because the legislation delegated a public function to it.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at