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Europe’s travel strikes in May and June: When are they and where will be affected?

Workers across Europe are walking out to protest low pay and poor working conditions.

Europe is a hive of strike action right now, with many employees unhappy that sky-high inflation has not been matched by higher wages.

Walkouts are planned all over Europe, showing that it always pays to check before you travel.

Luckily, we have gathered all of the strike information together below.

Read on to find out where and when are walkouts taking place.

If your flight or train is cancelled or delayed, you will be entitled to a new ticket or compensation. Read our guide for the full details.

Italy: Transport strikes happening in May and June

There will be a 24-hour ground handling strike at airports on 4 June.

The action is over employment contracts for handling staff. Unions say pay and conditions have not improved in the last six years.

The good news is that under Italian law flights scheduled to leave between 7-10am and 6-9pm are protected from strike action.

We will add more details on likely impacts of the strike when it is available.

Italy: Nationwide bus, train and tram strike

There is a nationwide, 24-hour general strike on 26 May which will affect bus and tram services as well as metro lines, with significant delays and cancellations likely to take place on the day. At the time of writing, it isn’t yet clear whether local and interregional rail services will also be affected by the walkout.

The strike was called by the Italian union USB (Unione Sindacati di Base) in protest against precarious work contracts and low wages.

France: Travellers warned about ongoing French pension protests

Unions across France have been in an ongoing battle against an increase in the legal retirement age from 62 to 64.

Protests broke out across the country after President Emmanuel Macron decided to push through the change without a parliamentary vote. Rubbish built up in Paris and was set on fire. Protesters have also clashed with police in the French capital. 

Trade unions have now announced a new nationwide day of protests on 6 June ahead of the French parliament’s National Assembly on 8 June. 

The level of travel disruption on strike days has varied. However, there have been flight and train cancellations and tourist attractions in Paris do sometimes close. So it is worth checking ahead of time if you’ll be travelling on a strike day.

French air traffic control strikes

Air traffic controllers (ATC) have been on strike since March, affecting flights all over Europe, and set to last until 1 June. Low-cost airline Ryanair said that in the first four months of 2023, there were more than 50 days of ATC strikes leading to more than 3,700 cancelled flights and affecting more than 666,000 passengers. 

UK: Security staff strikes continue at Heathrow Airport

Security staff at Heathrow are on strike from 25 to 26 May as part of a row over pay. This industrial action almost exclusively affects Terminal 5 and British Airways is the only airline to operate from this terminal. 

It is difficult to predict how much disruption the walkouts will cause.

Whereas the organising union Unite say it will cause “mayhem”, Heathrow says it has managed to keep the airport running smoothly during the previous industrial action, involving around 1,400 security staff.

“We anticipate that the airport will be busy during this period, and additional “Here to Help” teams are available to assist passengers,” a statement on Heathrow’s website says.

The airport has advised people to check the status of their flight before travelling. Passengers have been told to arrive no earlier than two hours before short-haul flights and three hours before long-haul flights.

Travellers will also only be able to bring two items of carry-on luggage through security on strike days. Handbags and laptop bags do count but checked baggage isn’t affected.

British Airways is offering passengers the chance to check in hand luggage for free to reduce pressure on security checkpoints.

Scotland: Potential disruption at Glasgow airport

Security staff who work at Glasgow airport have been negotiating a pay rise. They have just rejected what the Unite union called a “derisory” offer of a 5 per cent pay increase.

The union is balloting 400 workers employed by five companies; Glasgow Airport Ltd, ICTS Central Search, OCS, ABM and Falck Fire Services UK on strike action. 

“If these companies don’t come back with fair and decent offers then a summer of travel chaos is on the horizon,” warned Pat McIlvogue, Unite industrial officer.

No strike dates had been announced at the time of writing.

Spain: Airline and airport strikes continue into summer

The Spanish Airline Pilots Union (SEPLA) is calling for a fresh wave of strike days for pilots at Air Europa. They will be walking out from 22 to 26 and 29 to 30 May then again on 1 to 2 June. These will take place at all of the airline’s bases of operation and workplaces in Spain. 

The union has warned that strikes “will be extended in the coming months if the company refuses to negotiate a fair agreement.”

Pilots represented by SEPLA at other airlines in Spain, including Ryanair and Easyjet, are also considering strike action this summer.

It is part of an ongoing protest against the Spanish Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agency’s application of the ‘minimum services law’. This requires at least 90 per cent of flights to go ahead even when they are taking part in industrial action of pay. 

SEPLA argues that the way this law has been applied impedes on the pilots’ constitutional rights to a full strike and protects the interests of Air Europe bosses. Other groups including air traffic controllers and flight attendants could also join the walkouts to put pressure on airlines and the government.

Source: euronews