The union says that two lifeguards per tower are needed. | Joan Torres

Lifeguards in Palma are to go on strike on June 24, the day of the Sant Joan fiesta. The lifeguards union in Mallorca wants to send a wake-up call to the company with the contract for lifeguards. There will be minimum service from 10am to 7.30pm, and lifeguards not on duty will be collecting signatures for a petition at their operational centres - Cala Estancia, Cala Major, Can Pere Antoni, Ciudad Jardín and Playa de Palma.

Christian Melongo, the secretary of the lifeguards union in Mallorca, says that they (the company and town hall) are making the service "more precarious" and that the aim of the day's action is to make the company comply with workers' rights and regulations.

The lifeguards are demanding improvements to the service and to their working conditions. As well as better pay, they want the service to operate for twelve hours - from eight in the morning to eight in the evening - and to start at Easter and run until the end of October. They also want more lifeguards in order to provide optimal surveillance.

Melongo adds: "The main problem is that the town hall makes the situation precarious by cutting resources. The summer in Arenal is crazy. There is only one person guarding each tower. Two are needed."

In terms of pay, lifeguards receive the minimum wage despite the fact that "we are frontline health workers". They are demanding a salary increase, pay for the extra half hour "that we have been doing for five years" - the 15 minutes to raise flags and another fifteen to lower them at the end of the day - plus a bonus to compensate for the "insularity" factor, the cost of living in Mallorca.

Melongo explains that "there is a lack of lifeguards in the Balearics because people don't want to have to pay for training and then earn very little". "You can get paid twice as much at a restaurant."

He also points to a lack of response lifeguards out of normal working hours. "It's crazy. Last year, three people drowned outside working hours. We don't want to be corpse collectors." The day's strike will include placing crosses on beaches to commemorate those who have died outside working hours.

As well as the strike, a protest in front of the town hall is planned for June 30.