Rome airport braces for further baggage chaos

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Rome's Fiumicino could face further chaos. Photo: Gabriel Buoys/AFP
11:25 CEST+02:00
Travellers at Rome’s Fiumicino airport could face major disruption again this afternoon as Alitalia staff prepare another wildcat strike over layoffs. A spokesman for Italy’s biggest union, CGIL, told The Local that staff affiliated with the union may “go sick”.

Italy’s Civil Aviation Authority warned there is a high risk of “mass absenteeism” at the Rome airport after a merger deal between Etihad and Alitalia is signed on Friday afternoon.

The authority was forced to draft in about 200 staff on Wednesday after thousands of bags were left stranded at the airport following three days of protest by baggage handlers.

The potential strike has not been called by CGIL, which supports the deal but not the job cuts, as unions in Italy are prohibited from organizing strikes affecting public services during peak periods.

Strikers got around the prohibition by drastically slowing their pace of work or holding assemblies that took them off the job.

“If it happens the workers will provide medical certificates or slow their work, but no strike has been organized by us,” Guido Barcucci, a spokesperson for CGIL told The Local.

Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi told TGCom 24 that there would be about 950 layoffs as part of the deal, which will see Etihad invest €560 million for 49 percent of the indebted Italian airline.

Most unions have agreed to the redundancies, with the exception of CGIL and the far-left USB union.

“They will have social safety nets and will be helped to to find another job,” Lupi said, adding that development projects at Fiumicino and Milan’s Malpensa airport would create jobs. 

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But he said added the potential strike, which could continue through the weekend, is unacceptable.

“The action on Friday could paralyse Rome airport…I’ve asked the Minister of Health take action for all the necessary controls,” he told TGCom24.

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