There were moments of chaos and periods of calm at Palma station yesterday, the first day of industrial action by railway workers. As many as 6.000 people had their travel plans disrupted by the strike which, according to the manager of the SFM Majorcan railway company, was backed by 58 per cent of the work force. Minimum services did operate, four return journies from Palma to sa Pobla in the morning, which were used by some 4.000 passengers, just 40 per cent of the normal daily passenger load, although for the rest of the day, Palma railway station was a ghost town. Transport spokesperson for the CC.OO union, Toni Cifre, claimed last night that 98 per cent of the work force followed the 24-hour strike. Industrial action has been called in protest over an apparent lack of safety measures on the trains and the railway company's failure to honor an accord reached by workers with the management that next year's work rota will be drawn up before the year is out and that the number of part-time employees is reduced by 40 per cent. At least five more 24-hour strikes are planned in the run up to Christmas, depending on how negotiations with railway bosses progress. Railway bosses last night urged the unions not to give in to a militant few, adding that the workforce has to adapt to the changing needs of the travelling public and move with modernisation of the railway network and the trains. A winter of industrial action on the railway is not what either the railway company or the local government needs. Both have, and are, working hard on expanding the railway and want to attract more passengers by proving that the services are reliable and cost effective. A winter of strikes is certain to force some passengers to get their car out of the garage and start driving to work again - which is the opposite to what the Balearic government is striving for.
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