Walsh accuses Spanish unions of spreading anti-British lies

Spanish unions have been accused of spreading anti-British “lies” in a bid to prevent restructuring at Iberia which is losing €1.7 million a day.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of Iberia and British Airways parent company International Airlines Group, said unions were trying to promote an “anti-British” view.

“They have had to lie to people to do that. They have talked about a lot of things, they say BA has taken cash out of Iberia – it’s all nonsense,” he told the Sunday Telegraph.

IAG plans to cut at least 4,500 jobs or almost a quarter of the workforce as part of a survival plan for the Spanish carrier

Unions at the airline accused IAG of using cash from Iberia to fund BA. There have also been calls in Spain to dismantle the merger of BA and Iberia.

Strike action which was due to start on Friday was called off last week to avoid disruption to passengers over the Christmas and new year period. But industrial action could take place in January.

Walsh said there was nothing unions nor the government in Madrid could do to dismantle the 2011 merger between IAG and BA, despite claims to the contrary.

He has stressed that no funds from Iberia, which made operating losses of €262 million in the first nine months of the year, had been diverted to BA.

But pilots union Sepla has campaigned for the merger to be unwound, describing it as a “flagrant disregard” of Spanish interests.

Several thousand workers staged a protest at Madrid’s Barajas airport on Friday holding banners reading “T4 is Spanish and not British” and “we have been sold to pirates”.

Travellers arrived at the airport to be met with chants of “British, go home”, the newspaper reported.

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