The EMT (Municipal Transport Company) is planning to reduce bus fares from 175 pesetas to one euro (166 pesetas) next year, and is studying the possibility of extending free travel to the under tens, in an effort to promote the use of public transport. This was announced yesterday by company chairman Pedro Alvarez, who was presenting the annual report. He said that the EMT was a company of drivers and for drivers, which generates work in stable conditions. He added that the company plans to contract 100 new workers this year. The report covered various aspects of the company, from the time it started in 1985, when it replaced the former bus company SALMA. In 1999, staff levels were reduced from 482 to 468, the cuts affecting administration, but at the moment, the number of workers is 485. Wages are in the region of 5.8 million pesetas a year, which Alvarez considered decent for a 35 hour working week. The company is currently engaged in a bitter dispute with workers, who are threatening partial stoppages. But Alvarez said that the dispute was not over wages but concepts such as antiquity. Some workers are paid as much as 150'000 pesetas a month extra in this concept, which reflects the number of years worked with the company. Alvarez said that the company did not want to eliminate this concept, but argued that it was not right for a driver on sick leave to be paid more than one who is working. He also said that absenteeism was high at 11 per cent, compared to the average of three or four per cent. He denied rumours that the company was to be privatised. Finally, he said that the EMT showed a profit for the first time last year, 26.3 million pesetas.