Alitalia Airline says workers reject rescue plan

An Alitalia crew member walks past Alitalia employees who take part in a strike at Fiumicino international airport in Rome Italy

Alitalia workers have rejected a management restructuring plan to cut jobs and salaries, betting that the government will be asked to step in to save the loss-making Italian airline with an alternative plan.In the vote on Monday, nearly 90 percent of the airline's 12,500 employees had participated, with a clear majority of them opposed to management's proposals.

"The workers' anger won out", said Antonio Piras, general secretary of the Fit-Cisl union, explaining why two-thirds of workers had rejected a plan that had been agreed with unions.

They opposed a plan for 1,700 job losses and a eight per cent salary cut, despite the government saying over the weekend that there would be no alternative.

The Italian government could then appoint a commissioner to assess whether it can be overhauled or should be wound up.

Italy's national air carrier Alitalia is in the middle of an existential crisis after some 11,400 employees, or 90% of its total workforce, voted against a restructuring deal made by management and trade unions.

For decades, various industrial plans have failed to definitively relaunch Alitalia.

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Italian daily La Stampa said on Tuesday that Etihad may try to sell its Alitalia stake to German flagship carrier Lufthansa (Xetra: LHAB.DE - news), but cited no sources.

Union leaders urged workers they described as understandably angry to vote yes.

Alitalia has been hit hard by competition from low-priced companies and has been accumulating losses for years.

Alitalia has called a shareholder meeting for Thursday to discuss the next steps, adding its flight operations would remain unchanged for now.

Before privatization in 2009, various governments disbursed 4 billion euros in cash to Alitalia, rarely requiring strong industrial strategies in return.

Alitalia was seeking worker backing to unlock fresh funds from shareholders and launch an ambitious restructuring plan, centred around a revamp of its business for short and medium-haul flights and additional long-haul routes.

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