Europe-Wide Anti-Austerity Strike Wednesday Cancels Hundreds Of Flights

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Portugal protests over austerity bailout measures
A group in Portugal protests over austerity bailout measures. A Europe-wide anti-austerity strike set for Wednesday, Nov. 14 has already canceled hundreds off flights to and from Spain and Portugal.

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has announced a “day of action and solidarity” for Wednesday, Nov. 14, that could disrupt air travel across Europe.

The large-scale mobilization is meant to “call upon Europe’s leaders to demonstrate their determination to really get to grips with the deterioration in employment and to respond to the growing social anxiety felt by Europe’s citizens,” the organization said in a statement.

The ETUC will lead strikes in Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy, and it will hold demonstrations in France and several Eastern European countries.

“By sowing austerity, we are reaping recession, rising poverty and social anxiety,” argues Bernadette Ségol, ETUC General Secretary. “In some countries, people’s exasperation is reaching a peak. We need urgent solutions to get the economy back on track, not stifle it with austerity.”

Ségol believes Europe’s leaders are wrong not to listen to the anger of the people who are taking to the streets.

“The Troika can no longer behave so arrogantly and brutally towards the countries which are in difficulty. They must urgently address the issues of jobs and social fiscal justice, and they must stop their attacks on wages, social protection and public services.”

Approximately 40 trade union organizations from 23 countries will be involved in the action, and several European airlines have already issued statements warning of the strikes.

British Airways said that service changes were expected on some of its routes to and from Spain on Wednesday.

“If you are due to travel to or from Spain on Wednesday, Nov. 14, then we are allowing you to change free of charge to an alternative date up to 28 November,” it said in a statement, adding that there may also be disruptions in Portugal, Italy, France and Greece.

Iberia, which recently merged with British Airways, has canceled more than 350 flights for Wednesday, including some on Iberia Express and Air Nostrum.

Air France canceled “most” of its flights to and from Spain and “some” flights to and from Portugal scheduled for Wednesday, while KLM has canceled just eight flights in and out of Spain.

EasyJet canceled 26 flights and rescheduled 10 others to proactively minimize disruption. Fellow low-cost carrier Ryanair, however, said it was assured that air traffic controllers from Spain and Portugal would not participate in any strike and decided not to cancel any flights, though it’s continuing to monitor the situation and will allow passengers to change their flights fee-free.

Lufthansa, Europe’s largest airline, did not provide an exact number of flights affected.

With more than 24 million people out of work, Wednesday’s multi-national strike will be one of the largest the continent has seen.

The ETUC represents 85 labor organizations from 36 countries totaling some 60 million members. Its wide-reaching strike will not only affect air travel, but could also see total or partial shutdowns of the four most debt-burdened countries.

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