THOUSANDS of drivers face misery if their cars break down this weekend, as the local breakdown and tow-away service companies have voted in favour of joining in the strike which has been affecting eight other autonomous regions over the past week.
The local firms have announced that they will join in the strike from midnight tonight.
The dispute is with UNESPA, which groups together car insurance firms that are refusing to raise the prices for the breakdown service and are also refusing to resume negotiations until the tow car companies get back on the job.
Approximately half of the 60 breakdown companies in the Balearics belong to the CEPAS or ANEAC associations, which are backing the strike.
A spokesman for the local firms claimed that their rates had not been updated for 15 years, and warned that more than 1'000 drivers could be affected over the weekend.
The situation could get worse on Monday, because of the build up in repair work which is generated every weekend. The spokesman said that only cars belonging to disabled drivers would be towed away during the strike, providing they carry the corresponding card of accreditation. Vehicles which are a danger to other drivers will also be towed away. However, in the latter case, the vehicle would only be towed away to the nearest safe place, a few metres maximum and never to a workshop.
The owners of the companies affiliated to ANEAC held a meeting in the Hotel Bellver yesterday to inform non-associated firms of the strike, and also announced a demo for this morning.
Some 50 or 60 tow cars are expected to leave from the Son Moix parking lot by the Real Mallorca soccer ground and drive along the ring road to the Arenal motorway before turning back along the same route, although they have not ruled out driving along the Paseo Marítimo.
They will seek permission from the government representative's office and will inform the traffic police of the final route so that the necessary steps to regulate traffic can be taken.
The firms have also warned that pickets will be stationed at the entrance to industrial estates, roads and motorways to guarantee respect for the strike.
Balearic leader Jaume Matas yesterday expressed his concern at the negative results of the strikes.
He said he hoped that a solution would be found, which would prevent damage which in the end we will all pay for. The insurance companies, for their part, recommend drivers to contract private tow car firms if they should suffer a breakdown.
On the mainland, there have been cases of abandoned cars being vandalised.