Bag chaos at Rome airport as handlers protest

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Hundreds of bags were left abandoned. Photo: Herwig Vergult/AFP
17:38 CEST+02:00
Hundreds of travellers were kept waiting for their luggage at Rome’s Fiumicino airport on Tuesday, as a protest by Alitalia baggage handlers over jobs cuts as part of a merger deal with Etihad entered into its second day.

Hundreds of bags were left abandoned on luggage carts as handling staff reduced their working time at the busy airport, causing havoc for passengers, Il Messaggero reported.

Angry Alitalia passengers soon took to Twitter to vent their frustration:

The protest continued as Etihad CEO James Hogan arrived in the capital on Tuesday with the aim of clinching a deal that could see it buy almost half of the troubled airline, a move that will mean over 2,000 job losses.

The protest was slammed late on Tuesday afternoon by the consumers association, Codacons, which threatened to file a complaint with the public prosecutor over “disruption of a public service” if the strike didn’t end within a few hours.

“It is in no way tolerable to hold such strikes during a busy holiday period,” Carlo Rienzi, Codacons president, said in a statement published by Il Messaggero.

Redundancies are a hurdle in the deal with Etihad, which is expected to invest an estimated €560 million for a 49 percent stake in the hugely indebted airline

The Abu Dhabi carrier is asking for 2,171 jobs to be cut.

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At talks between Alitalia and unions in mid-July, there was a partial agreement on laying off 1,635 workers - with some being moved to other companies in the aviation sector and others receiving redundancy packages.

Most unions have agreed, with the exception of Italy's biggest union, the CGIL, and the far-left USB union.

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