November 10, 2008

Unions in Disarray Interrupt Flights

A split between union leaders and rank and file at Italy's Alitalia airline did not stop a strike from canceling at least 17 flights Monday, reports said.

The strike approved by five unions includes 15 days of walkouts between Nov. 25 and May 26, but staff at the Fiumicino airport in Rome called for a continuous strike Monday, ANSA reported.

Union leaders pleaded with staff not to split from leadership. "You have to trust us. We cannot afford a split. There is a right way to do this and you must have confidence in us," a union official said.

"We cannot take dramatic action because we would be slapped with a back-to-work order in a matter of minutes."

Staff proceeded with a sit-in at airport counters anyway.

The unions are protesting hiring arrangements announced by Compagnia Aerea Italiana, the equity group planning to buy the failed airline, ANSA reported.

The group's plan has approval from four of the country's leading trade unions and considers that approval adequate for proceeding with the purchase, ANSA said.