Train drivers' strike continues: 112 trains cancelled by 9:00 a.m
The company operates 47% of planned minimum services
BarcelonaThe fourth day of the train drivers' strike at state rail company Renfe began with 38 trains cancelled by seven in the morning. Two hours later, the number had risen to 112, according to the company. So far, they have been able to offer only 47% of the planned minimum services, which for today were set at 85%. Since the strike began last Thursday, the operator has accused some drivers of not complying with minimum services –set by a judge and required by law–, creating havoc on commuter trains. Stations stewards claim not to know when the next train will arrive amid ever larger crowds.
Train driver union Semaf criticised the company for not informing workers of minimum services. They say the company did not send letters correctly informing about minimum services to all the workers. During the whole weekend, Renfe claims to have multiplied the ways in which it communicates with train drivers so that they turn up and comply with minimum services.
The fourth day of strike action started with greater disruption than yesterday, which was already affected by the rain. Yesterday morning, Renfe reported that it was offering 53% of essential transport planned before 9am, and at 6.30am it had already had to cancel 24 trains – 14 fewer than today – because workers had not shown up to cover their shift. Workers included in the minimum services that do not turn up to work may be subject to disciplinary measures, ranging from a five-day suspension from work and salary to dismissal, according to the company. Thirty-one workers are already facing disciplinary measures, most of them in Valencia and five in Catalonia.
Semaf accuses the company of not wanting to negotiate and ensures that the strike committee has not received any official summons. Union spokesperson in Catalonia Luis Moyano insisted yesterday that all workers who have received a letter informing them they are part of minimum services turned up to work. "Some train drivers have been notified and others have not. This has been chaos," he said in statements to ACN, while Renfe maintains that they are constantly negotiating with unions. One of the reasons that have led the train drivers to strike is the possible transfer of the commuter train service from the central government to the Generalitat. Semaf defends the company's "integrity" and its workers' rights, warning that if this came to happen it would mean "kidnapping" staff since 90% are from outside Catalonia and its members would not be able to ask for a transfer, he adds.
Unlike Thursday and Friday last week, Monday's stoppage was partial – workers mobilised between 5 am and 9 am, between 2 pm and 4 pm and from 6 pm to 10 pm – but this Tuesday the mobilisation is again 24 hours. The strike will continue on October 7, 8, 11 and 12.
Given the effects the protest is having, the president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, urged the Spanish government to roll up its sleeves and meet the unions this week to find a "solution" to the labour conflict. In a press conference after visiting the Barcelona Motor Show, Aragonès said that labour disputes "cannot affect 400,000 Catalans" who use commuter trains every day and suffer a worse service than usual. Aragonès demanded the transfer of the management of commuter trains to the Generalitat as well as the "necessary" economic endowment.