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THE Works Committee of Palma's municipal bus company (EMT), accused management yesterday of being responsible for the delays in re-establishing a normal service following yesterday's unofficial stoppage by drivers. The disruption, held between the hours of 5am and 7.30am, was the second in a series of threatened industrial actions, times which could have affected “10'000 users more” than the first one. Ramón Alcolea, workers' representative, reported that management had once again closed the bus garages during the time that the protest was in operation, meaning that technically, the strike had 100 percent support from the drivers, because even if there had been those who wanted to work, they could not get in to bring the buses out onto the road. After describing the garage closure as a “managerial lockout” which “contravened” workers' rights, Alcolea estimated that this second stoppage could well have affected more bus users than the first, which took place on 27 February. The assessment was based on the fact that the former coincided with part of a school half-term holiday when there would have been less demand for public bus services. In relation to yesterday's delays experienced in getting a normal service going again, Alcolea declared that management must take the blame for not having liaised in advance with the traffic control department to re-establish smooth running after the strike was over. As a result, said the workers' representative, when the buses came out onto the streets to start their service routes, traffic started to jam solidly.
Alcolea reiterated his condemnation of the attitude of bus company bosses who had adopted a totally inflexible attitude during recent salary negotiations. Workers were demanding a 5 percent rise against the 2 percent offer of the company. Management claim their offer is legally established within annual budget agreements and claim that the reason that the Unions have not wanted to take their case to independent tribunal is because they (the Unions) know full well such a tribunal would find in favour of management. EMT chiefs have also warned that in the face of European Union plans to free up the market of transport services within member States, workers will have to take care not to price themselves off the market. Meanwhile workers are planning a further stoppage today and 24 hour strikes on 9 and 11 March.