Ground staff and cabin crew at the Spanish airline Iberia are planning strikes on 15 days during three separate periods of February and March.

Unions representing airline employees announced that industrial action will take place from February 18 to 22, March 4 to 8 and March 18 to 22.

They are protesting against plans to lay off 4,500 workers, or 23 per cent of the company’s total number of employees.

Willie Walsh, now executive of Iberia and BA’s parent company International Airlines Group (IAG), was being blamed for the breakdown in talks, the travel trade website TravelMole reported .

Gabriel Mocho, of the International Transport Workers’ Federation said: “The fingerprints of Willie Walsh are visible in the breakdown in talks that led to this declaration.”

“Orders from above have clearly denied Iberia the freedom to achieve a joint negotiated plan with unions to secure a profitable future for the airline.”

Previous industrial action planned by Iberia staff around the Christmas period was called off.

Unions representing cabin crew and ground staff had planned a six-day walk-out between December 14 and 21 in protest against job cuts, but called off the action three days beforehand.

In November last year, IAG said it would cut around a quarter of Iberia’s workforce as part of a strategy to reduce capacity and make the airline more competitive.

Photo Credit: A Spanish Iberia Airlines aircraft lands during a pilot strike at Pablo Ruiz Picasso Airport in Malaga, southern Spain December 18, 2011. Jon Nazca / Reuters