Union leaders suspend Alitalia strikes

Following wildcat strikes over the weekend which downed flights, Alitalia SpA union leaders said they would "suspend'' a 24-hour strike planned for Jan 23 after the government offered to discuss complaints about longer shifts, decreasing job security and the sale of a unit.

Submitted by Steven. on January 23, 2006

"We've been called in for a meeting with the government on Wednesday to discuss the Alitalia situation, so we've suspended the 24-hour strike due to start tonight at midnight,'' said Alberto Cassandra, a spokesman for Filt Cgil, the transport branch of Italy's largest union federation, in an interview.

Five unions representing flight attendants, ground crews and pilots of the Rome-based carrier had called for the strike in protest of measures taken by Chief Executive Officer Giancarlo Cimoli to return the company to profit. Cimoli is seeking to cut costs by shedding as many as 3,700 jobs and selling the airline's services unit to state holding company Fintecna SpA.

"The trade unions and management reached an accord in 2004 that was to guarantee the company not being chopped up and sold off,'' Cassandra said. "Cimoli's not sticking to the agreement, and his measures aren't bringing in the desired results if the figures that are leaking out are anything to go by.''

Italian newspaper Il Sole/24 Ore reported yesterday that the airline missed its 2005 passenger sales target by at least 160 million euros, leading to forecasts for an operating loss this year. Cimoli plans to trim expenses by 1 billion euros over the next four years to help return the airline to profit after five years of losses.

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