Spain airport, metro workers plan strikes during pope visit

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The Independent Travel

Unions representing Spanish airport ground crew and Madrid metro workers have called strikes that will coincide with Pope Benedict XVI's four-day visit to the Spanish capital next week.

Three unions representing 60,000 check-in staff, baggage handlers and other ground workers - CCOO, UGT and USO - said they plan 24-hour strikes for August 18, the day the pope is set to arrive in Madrid, and again on August 26.

They are protesting after a private company which runs baggage handling at Barcelona's El Prat airport, WFS, dismissed four workers.

A union representing workers on the Spanish capital's underground trains, UGT-Metro, have also called a strike for the afternoon of August 18 as well as 24-hour strikes on August 20 and August 21 in a separate industrial action.

The metro workers are protesting cuts to their wages as part of government austerity measures.

The pope is scheduled to visit Madrid next week to lead World Youth Day celebrations, which take place August 16-21.

More than one million faithful are expected to flock to the Spanish capital for the Roman Catholic Church's youth festivities.

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