Europe's Travel Strikes In May And June: When Are They And Where Will Be Affected?

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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 June

There will be a 24-hour ground handling strike at Italian 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.

Since at least four of Italy's largest transport workers' unions will take part in the strike, the protest is expected to cause some level of disruption at all of Italy's major airports, especially at check-in desks and in baggage collection areas.

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

You can check this list for flights that are guaranteed to go.

Which airports will be affected?

Atitech staff at Rome's Fiumicino Airport and handling staff at Bergamo's Orio Al Serio airport will strike for the full 24 hours, according to a local newspaper.

Handling staff at airports nationwide will walk out between 12pm and 4pm.

Meanwhile, air traffic control operators employed by ENAV's Rome and Milan centres have announced a strike between 1pm and 5pm.

Staff at Spanish airlines Volotea and Vueling, and Air Dolomiti – a subsidiary of Lufthansa operating routes from Germany to 13 different Italian destinations – are expected to take part in a 24-hour nationwide strike.

Meanwhile, ground staff from American Airlines and Emirates are expected to strike for four hours, between 12pm and 4pm.

Flights run by any of these airlines may experience delays or cancellations on the day, though no details have been given yet.

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: Nationwide train strikes in May and June

Three major transport unions have called nationwide strikes later this week.

There will be nationwide strikes affecting most train companies on 31 May, 2 June and 3 June.

On previous train strike days, very few trains have run so it is worth planning ahead if you have to travel on these days.

National Rail said: “Train companies will be busy assessing how this will affect their ability to provide services and so full details about the level of service each train operating company will be able to run are not yet known for all days.

However, passengers are warned to expect significant disruption as it is likely to result in little or no services across large areas of the network.

Services are also likely to be disrupted and start later on the day immediately following a strike day.”

You can check for specific disruption via National Rail.

If you have a ticket that is affected by strike action, you will be able to use it on an alternative day or receive a free refund.

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 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.

If you know of a big strike happening in your country that we have missed, we'd love to hear from you via Twitter.