STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
AROUND 11'000 travellers using Majorcan Railway Services (SFM) and the Palma Metro could be affected by the 24-hour strike threatened by the SFM Works Committee this coming Monday.

A spokesman for the Committee, Alejandro Hoyas said yesterday that the main difference dividing workers and management continue to be issues of safety and what the Committee perceives as a need to create permanent jobs for extra mechanical staff.

Palma's Transport Director, Antoni Verger, said that SFM management will today be presenting the minimum requirements for a limited service to operate on Monday, stipulations to which the Works Committee is bound by prior agreement to adhere. Verger confirmed that about 50 percent of trains will be running, chiefly during rush hour periods.

Another meeting between staff and management floundered yesterday morning on the issue of jobs for another ten mechanics - on top of the six which are to begin work next week. “If SFM employs these extra ten mechanics,” said Hoyas, “the industrial action would come to an end.” Whilst the Works Committee is now planning to take legal action against the company, SFM managing director, Jaume Jaume, announced safety measures which are to be taken on the trains which include the installation of 50 new fire extinguishers and 250 hammers with which passengers and staff can use to break windows and escape in the event of fire. Jaume added that laminated glass will be fitted to all emergency exits on rolling stock in the autumn. He claimed that by the end of 2009, SFM will have spent 8.5 million euros in security on the trains right across Majorca and technicians are currently investigating the possibility of a further ten million euro investment.

Jaume said that even though manning levels had been increased by 66.6 percent, he was not hopeful of avoiding the industrial action on Monday. The company, he said, is not prepared to revise staffing agreements in the way the Works Committee is proposing.

Matters over safety had come to a head between staff and management after two recent fire-related incidents in which, by good fortune only, there had been no injuries because rolling stock had been in a station at the time allowing passengers to evacuate easily.

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