Palma.—There are more than 2'000 private coach drivers currently ferrying holiday makers to resorts all over Majorca and the pressure of demand is meaning that they are forced to endure shifts of between 12 and 14 hours a day, Josep Ginard, the head of the transport sector of the Workers Commission (CCOO) said yesterday. Because of the effect of the crisis on the ebb and flow of the tourist tide, he explained, drivers are now having to cram into four months what would in previous years have been spread out over ten.

Because thousand of passengers a day are landing at Palma airport, the drivers are reportedly doing several hours extra to “compensate” for the months when there was very litte work about, said Ginard.

The CCOO delegate claimed that drivers have become the victims of the change in seasonality of tourism and that now, only those staff who have been established with the coach companies the longest are called for work at the start of the season.

In days gone by, he said, activity used to start in March and end in November. Now, keeping a coach company as a going concern with work for only four months of the year simply isn't feasible. What drivers are now faced with said Ginard, is 1'800 hours of work compressed into a short space of the year.

Apart from exhaustion and having to cope with the heat, drivers are also witnessing a time of intense collective bargaining in the sector where unions are calling for “health and safety rest times.” There are 1'700 private coaches in operation on Majorca and during the intensive demand of high season, drivers are working a 70-hour week.
Coach company owners are saying that drivers can't expect to get overtime pay as well as their salary but the unions say that as the tourist season is now so short, any extra remuneration should go to compensate for the months when there is little to no work at all.

Ginard said that the company management views the drivers as personnel who are employed just to drive the vehicles from point A to B, but the Workers Commission pointed out that the work is not that easy. Part of staff exhaustion is triggered by having to wait long hours for delayed flights and indeed having to deal to some extent with the passengers themselves, they say.

Sa Calobra continues to be the most popular destination on Majorca for coach excursions. Because of its long winding route, traffic lights have been set up to regulate streams of traffic entering the gorge.


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