The El Prat airport is a world-class airport in Barcelona—the 40th busiest in the world in 2015, and one of the busiest in Europe. Almost 100 airlines operating flights out of there, carrying ~40 million passengers a year. Proper, seamless functioning of an airport this size requires a huge number of staff members—both front end and back end—all working together.
So what happened when the janitorial staff went on strike for 5 days between November 28 and December 2?
Trash and recyclables were not picked up, leading to overflowing receptacles. Floors were absolutely filthy, and there were even reports of toilets clogging in the airport. Passengers flying through Barcelona were understandably shocked at the airport’s condition, and many took to social media to document the horrific scene.
— Steve Fraser (@Saintbarca) December 2, 2016
— Trevor Moore (@HappyHumanistUK) December 2, 2016
The janitorial staff members went on strike partly in protest of the 1.3 million Euro budget cut announced by Aena, the airport management company. The budget cut may eventually likely lead to lower wages, but union workers said they were were mostly concerned about changes in schedules and reduction in vacation days, after the airport awarded the low-priced contract to operator/service company Valoriza.
Cleaning has resumed as of December 3, 2016, but it is not clear whether negotiation attempts are actually underway. According to USA Today, the service company is threatening another strike, from December 22 to December 23, if no satisfactory progress is made. (On a selfish note, I really hope that doesn’t happen, because I’ll actually be flying through there then…)