The tourism sector, though free from the grip of a pandemic, now faces the consequences as strikes sweep across Europe, exacerbating the challenges posed by soaring oil prices.
Employees in the air travel industry are taking to the streets, demanding improved working conditions, and their protests are causing disruptions for travellers and affecting European countries at large.
In light of the ongoing strikes, a recent media report has identified the countries expected to be affected in the coming days and weeks. It urges passengers to consult a comprehensive guide before making travel arrangements or heading to the airport.
On, Tuesday, May 22, Belgium braces itself for an influx of discontented workers who will rally to protest assaults on workers’ right to strike and social dumping. Social dumping refers to the practice of employers hiring cheaper labour, undermining workers’ rights, to reduce costs. The demonstrations are anticipated to disrupt bus, tram, and metro services, as warned by Brussels’ main transport operator, STIB-MIVB.
Due to severe floods in Emilia-Romagna, union strikes in Italy have been postponed to June 4. However, two unions, CUB and USB, proceeded with their protest on May 19.
This action led to the cancellation of 113 domestic flights by ITA (Italy’s national airline), forcing passengers to seek alternative bookings. USB’s protest centres around precarious work contracts and inadequate salaries.
On May 26, a 24-hour general strike is scheduled, potentially impacting tram services, metro lines, and buses. Passengers should anticipate delays and cancellations on Friday, while the effects on rail services remain undisclosed.
Fresh waves of strikes loom over Spain as the Spanish Airline Pilots Union (SEPLA) calls for additional strike days for Air Europa’s pilots. The protest began on May 22 and is expected to persist until Friday, May 26, continuing into the following week from May 29 to May 30. Similar action is anticipated at the start of June, specifically on June 1 and June 2.
Pilots from other airlines in Spain are also contemplating joining the strike actions this summer. The union has issued a warning that if their demands are not met, further strikes will be carried out in the upcoming months.
The workers’ grievances stem from the Spanish Ministry of Transport’s implementation of a law that mandates at least 90 per cent of flights to operate regardless of ongoing industrial actions. According to SEPLA, this law infringes upon the pilots’ right to strike and instead protects the interests of Air Europa. Air traffic controllers, flight attendants, and other staff members may also participate in the walkouts.
As the French parliament’s National Assembly convenes on June 8, French citizens opposed to the proposed increase in the legal retirement age have planned another nationwide protest on June 6. The demonstrations may lead to flight cancellations across Europe, with tourist destinations occasionally forced to close due to the unrest.
Ryanair airline reports that during the 50 days of Air Traffic Controller strikes across Europe between January and April, more than 666,000 passengers were affected by 3,700 cancelled flights.
In conclusion, these ongoing strikes and protests are causing significant disruptions in the European tourism industry, leaving travellers and destinations grappling with unforeseen challenges.
As negotiations and discussions continue between unions and authorities, the impact on air travel and the broader economy remains uncertain. Passengers are advised to stay informed and seek updated travel guidance before embarking on their journeys.
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