Long queues at Barcelona airport as security guards strike

Passengers gather as they wait for passing the security controls at Barcelona's El Prat airport due to a strike of security agents in Barcelona, on Aug 4, 2017.
Passengers gather as they wait for passing the security controls at Barcelona's El Prat airport due to a strike of security agents in Barcelona, on Aug 4, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

MADRID (AFP) - Frustrated passengers waited in line for long periods at Barcelona's El Prat airport on Friday (Aug 4) as security guards staged a partial strike at the peak of the holiday season, an AFP journalist saw.

Airport mangement company Aena urged passengers to arrive earlier than usual for their flights, saying they could expect delays of at least 40 minutes.

But passengers questioned by AFP said the wait was far longer.

The dispute centres on workload and staffing levels at the busy airport, which uses 360 non-unionised guards under a contract with a multinational firm, Eulen.

El Prat is Spain's busiest airport after Madrid. Passenger traffic rose by more than 60 per-cent from 2009 to 2016, driven by the arrival of low-cost airlines lured by Barcelona's attaction as a tourist destination.

Under the initial phase of the strike, the security guards will stop work for four hours from Friday to Monday, which would be repeated the following week, according to a strike committee established at Eulen.

The employees are required by law to ensure at least 90-per-cent service, under a decree issued by the prefecture of Catalonia.

But if there is no resolution, the guards will go on a full, 24-hour stoppage from August 14, according to Juan Carlos Gimenez, spokesman for the committee.