By Humphrey Carter
INDUSTRIAL unrest has started to rattle Majorca with fire fighters continuing protest action while the first wave of two-months of industrial action took place at Palma airport. Over 500 airport employees, including Son Santa Joan fire fighters, launched the first protest in Palma yesterday against the Spanish airport authority, AENA's plans to privatise and contract out the majority of its services. There were similar scenes at all of Spain's main airports as staff prepare for flash strikes and all-out action next month and in April.
The strike committee set up by AENA is confident it will be able to reach a deal with union bosses on Monday and avert industrial action which will disrupt Spring and Easter travel. However, union leaders in Palma hailed yesterday morning's protest a “great success.” CCOO union boss Nacho Nor made it quite clear yesterday that strike action will go ahead as planned, unless AENA agrees to a complete U-turn on its privatisation plans. The unions are calling for the resignation of the director general and director of AENA.
Nor said that AENA wants to contract out 90 percent of all airport services, “that poses a direct threat to 70 percent of the work force and also jeopardises the quality of services provided and levels of security.” One area to be sub-contracted is fire fighting. In fact AENA wants to retain control of very little apart from air traffic control, airport management, infrastructure and public relations. On behalf of AENA employees in the Balearics, local union leaders intend to lobby the government for help in their bid to force AENA into reducing its privatisation plans. Pending the results of Monday's meeting, strike action is planned for March 5, 7, 9 and 12 and then April 2, 7 and 11.
Palma fire fighters took to the streets of the capital again yesterday and marched on City Hall repeating their calls for their boss to be replaced and for fixed shifts to be introduced. Firemen want assurances that, when possible, they continue to work the same shifts with the same colleagues.
That way, they always know when they are working or not, but more importantly can operate with the confidence that they know who they are working with in the event of amajor fire or disaster. The Palma fire brigade is also short staffed which has led to fire fighters having to work extra shifts.
It appears that they will win the battle. However, the council does not want to lose too much face by giving in immediately.

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