Taxi drivers sit on the fence
The self-employed taxi drivers association, which has about 880 cabbies from Palma and 1'000 all over the island, said it is not backing Thursday's general strike officially, but members are free to do as they like. However, do not expect to find many taxis at the airport, as a spokesman said they do not want to cause any provocation at the airport, as this will be the “hottest spot” during the strike. Pickets are likely to stop taxi drivers trying to pick up fares at Son Sant Joan airport as they did in the last strike last summer. A spokesman for the cabbies said that they had not been contacted by foreign tour operators or travel agents for ferrying passengers to and from the airport.

German tour operator cancels flights
The Palma based airline Hola Airlines has cancelled two flights to Palma contracted by a German tour operator for Thursday because of the general strike, its director general Mario Hidalgo said yesterday. He said that the tour operator had cancelled because its clients wanted to avoid the strike and the airline has been asked to find another day for the flights. Airlines and travel agencies are afraid that tourists will be “trapped” at Balearic airports because of the strike, called in protest at sweeping unemployment benefit reforms introduced by the government of José María Aznar.

Tourist firms fear loss of image
One of the biggest fears of the tourist industry over the June 20 strike is the international media coverage and its effect on the chief European markets if there is chaos at the airports. Hoteliers say that there has already been a huge drop in bookings and the strike will only aggravate matters. They report that tour operators are already demanding ten per cent price cuts for next summer and are planning to reduce the number of beds contracted for the season. Regions such as Andalucia have been benefiting from the drop in Balearic bookings.

“Workers will be protected”
Both the government in Madrid and the Unemployment Exchange (Inem) in the Balearics have repeatedly said that the 43'000 fijos-discontinuos (workers on seasonal contracts who are recalled by the same employer year after year and collect unemployment pay during the winter) will continue to collect unemployment pay after the labour reforms.

“Workers will not be protected”
The unions however say that the law is not clear on this point and say that the workers will not receive unemployment pay during the winter. The unions also claim that the reforms make it cheaper for management to sack workers and will lead to an increase in cheap labour.


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