Awork to rule by private security staff in the Balearics next month could bring the region's airports, hospitals, child care centre and even banks to a stand still.
Union leaders are in talks with private security firms in Madrid to try and reach a new deal of working hours and pay, but Puig Roig, secretary of the General Workers Union's security committee in the Balearics, warned yesterday that, unless a deal is reached over the next two weeks, a general strike can not be ruled out.
At the moment, 1.350 private security staff are threatening to refuse working over time next month and that could have serious consequences here in the Balearics.
Roig said that a mass protest has been organised for October 27 and, if the unions' demands are ignored, private security staff will refuse to work their 50 hours over time next month.
That is the minimum number of overtime hours most of them are having to work, Roig said.
That will mean 350 security guards on the streets in the Balearics, he added.
The overtime issue appears to be the key stumbling block in talks between the unions and the private security firms. At present, private security guards are paid 7.60 euros per hour over time on a working day. The unions want that figure increased to nine euros an hour.
Management would rather offer staff the chance to take time off in lieu, however, union leaders are refusing to agree.
According to Roig, private security staff are having to work over time because with their basic wages of 730 euros per month they can't make it to the end of the month. Roig and the CC.OO Workers Commission's Valentín Fernánd warned yesterday the work-to-rule could bring the region's airports, where private security guards are on duty round-the-clock, to a standstill.
However, all facilities which rely on 24-hour security will suffer.
For example, automatic cash machines will run out of money once the banks are closed because the security needed to transport extra money to banks will not be available.
The work-to-rule will also leave serious gaps in security at hospitals and government buildings.
Union leaders yesterday apologised for the discomforts and problems industrial action may cause, but Roig said that the proposal from the management is an insult and left them with little choice but to protest.
He also claimed that, while the unions want a ten percent pay rise across the board, management will only agree to a 2.7 percent rise for 2005, that's lower than inflation.
Union bosses are also calling for danger money to be paid to all security guards considered to be working in a dangerous environment.
At present, only armed guards are entitled to claim danger money.