SOME 11'000 passengers on the Majorcan Railway Service (SFM) and Palma's Metro could have been affected by the 24-hour strike called yesterday by the SFM Works Committee in protest over alleged lack of operational security and too few mechanical staff.

In anticipation of the industrial action, the regional Transport Ministry had last week set the conditions for a minimal service which would cover the rush hours enabling people to get to and from their place of work without major delays. The Metro meanwhile was running at 45 minute intervals between 7am and 8.30pm whilst from 8.30-9.52pm, there was a train every hour.

Yesterday's strike followed a series of meetings held between the management of SFM and the union representatives on the Works Committee. The latest had been held last Friday but all had ended in failure to reach agreement. The stumbling block proved to be the Works Committee's demand that a further ten full-time contracts be given to mechanics, in addition to the six who are starting work with the company this week. The Committee says that six is not enough and that many of the operational problems experienced on the railways are due to maintenance problems. It is planning to take the company to court for not having honoured a staffing increase agreement signed last September.

SFM management meanwhile say they have addressed security issues following two recent fires on rolling stock which was fortunately stationary at the time. Fifty new fire extinguishers are to be installed during August along with 250 hammers for smashing the escape windows. In autumn, laminated glass will be fitted in the emergency exit of each carriage. SFM say that by the end of the year, they will have invested 8.5 million euros in security on the trains. The Transport Ministry apologised yesterday to the public for any inconvenience caused by the industrial action.


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