ROME Feb 23 Struggling Italian airline Alitalia
was forced to cancel 60 percent of scheduled flights on Thursday
as its employees went on strike to protest about employment
Hundreds of employees marched outside Rome's main airport,
where usually bustling check-in areas were deserted.
Alitalia's controlling shareholder Etihad Airways, which
has a 49 percent stake, is pushing for deep job cuts. The
airline's financial losses and failure to fend off low-cost
competition is widely blamed on years of poor management.
Protesters said on Thursday they had been on "precarious"
temporary contracts for 60 months, and were being asked to
accept ever-harsher working conditions.
"Something needs to change," said Alitalia employee Luca
Iannelli. "The workers shouldn't be the ones paying for the bad
decisions made by managers who aren't up to the task of heading
the company and are unable to get it to make a profit."
Sources say heavy restructuring may include up to 2,000 job
cuts and grounding of planes, in a last-ditch attempt to keep
(Reporting by Antonio Denti; writing by Isla Binnie; Editing by