Turkish Airlines Says Notified Of Strike Move

May 21, 2010

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Turkish Airlines said on Friday it had been notified of a move by union members to strike over wages and working hours, triggering fresh losses in the shares of Europe's fourth-largest airline.

However, a strike was not imminent as notification of the strike decision by the Hava Is union will initiate a 60-day period of talks. Employees must give six days notice before striking, according to Turkish law.

Hava Is represents 11,000 workers, more than half of whom are pilots and flight attendants. The two sides have been negotiating since January without reaching agreement.

"Our company received official notification of the Hava Is union strike decision on May 21, 2010," the statement from Istanbul-based Turkish Airlines said.

Its rapid expansion into new markets has meant longer working days for pilots and flight attendants. Hava Is wants to shorten hours to comply with European and US flight-safety standards, union chairman Mustafa Yagci said on Thursday.

Turkish Airlines has more than doubled the number of destinations it serves since 2005 to 149 international and domestic airports.

It wants to become Europe's third-biggest airline by passengers this year. Numbers have grown almost 50 percent since 2006, while revenue has nearly doubled.

The summer months from June to September are Turkish Airlines' busiest, as millions of tourists travel to Turkey.

The government can postpone strikes at strategic companies, which include Turkish Airlines. The state also retains a 49 percent stake in the carrier.

(Reuters)