Anyone planning to travel by train on Monday, July 15 should allow plenty of extra time and check their journey is still running according to plan, since a general strike across the national rail system has been called for 24 hours.
One of Spain’s largest unions, the Labourers’ Commissions (CCOO), says employees of the rail board RENFE want more staff brought in to ease their workload, shorter working hours and better pay.
If a positive response is not forthcoming, the CCOO says, further industrial action may be staged in August and the strikes could extend to employees of the State rail infrastructure board ADIF.
Staff are calling for RENFE to take on more workers since the transport body’s ‘ageing population’ means employees are retiring faster than they can be replaced.
The CCOO says all vacancies need to be filled and at least a further 5% created.
As at September 2018, RENFE had 13,694 members of staff, but the previous August this was up to 13,723 and workers still felt overstretched even then.
Union representatives say the current numbers mean the rail board is unable to provide the quality of service to customers it would like to see as standard.
RENFE had already agreed to take on extra staff, launching a mass offer of 826 jobs in March, and had pledged to reduce the working week from 40 hours to 37-and-a-half.
The CCOO says all the rail board has done is to guarantee Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve off and to ‘reduce the working day by 17 minutes’, which it calls ‘taking the mickey’.
Also, the agreed 0.5% salary bonus for productivity in 2017 and 2018 has not been paid.
Previous rail strikes nationwide have often been called off at the last minute, but passengers should not rely on this and should check their trains are running well in advance of setting off for their station.
As transport is considered an essential public utility, striking workers are required to provide at least ‘minimum services’, normally stipulated as approximately 40% or 50% of trains off-peak and up to 70% during rush hour.