Palma.—The Balearic tourist industry's worst nightmare came true yesterday, the hostelry sector and coach drivers officially informed the relevant authorities that they will be taking strike action on July 20, 21 and 22.

The hostelry sector, hotels, bars and restaurants, will be holding their day of industrial action on July 20, which is a Friday, while coach drivers will follow with a two-day strike over the weekend.

The industry has been calling for common sense to prevail since negotiations between the various sectors over better working conditions and more job security broke down last month, but it appears that the unions have made up their minds.

There does remain a slim ray of hope that the strikes may be averted, but it is highly unlikely.
Pep Ginard, transport shop steward for the CCOO general workers' commission said yesterday that the unions have reached their decision now it is up to the coach companies and expressed his desire that a deal can be negotiated. “But, it has to be one which the sector as a whole approves of, so it's going to be pretty tough on behalf of the coach companies to meet our demands,” he warned.

The government, which made it clear last week that it had no intention of “interfering” in the talks, will have to ensure that minimum services are provided, as coach strikes, as the industry has seen in the past, cause massive disruption because holiday makers end up trapped in airports here in the Balearics and overseas or in their hotels with airlines then having to accommodate for the backlog of passengers in destinations where they should no longer be.

A spokesperson for ABTA, the Association of British Travel Agents said yesterday: “Any form of strike action by Spanish tourist sector workers at the height of the summer is extremely short-sighted. “Many British holidaymakers are already concerned about potential disruption caused by the crisis in the Eurozone which ABTA has countered by stressing the great value on offer due to the strength of sterling and that the Eurozone is safe and open for business but the negative headlines caused by potential strikes as much as actual disruption, risk undoing this good work and will further damage the Spanish economy and harm job prospects.” This weekend, Palma airport is going to handle over 400'000 passengers and the majority of those will be on package holidays and therefore be expecting a coach transfer.

Come the end of the month, those figures will have risen further with an estimated half a million people facing disruption over the weekend July 20-22.

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