By Ryan Harrison
A MASSIVE cleaning operation was launched in the early hours of yesterday morning at Palma airport as the three-day strike by cleaning staff ended at midnight Thursday amid police presence, with still no agreement reached between unions and cleaning company representatives.

Extra cleaning staff were drafted in to help clear the mess in what turned out to be a six-and-a-half hour marathon cleaning mission to return the usually spotless airport to normal.

Talks broke down after a final attempt on Thursday to reach a satisfactory deal over a proposed five-day week, improved and more adequate cleaning equipment and a pay rise.

Union leaders yesterday unveiled a new industrial action plan set to disrupt the airport again on the first weekend of August and on every subsequent weekend for the rest of the summer unless their demands are met.

A key stumbling block was that the five-day week could only be offered by cleaning companies with over 50 employees.
A lot of cleaning companies employ smaller numbers of staff, so would have suffered as a result. The unions therefore rejected the proposal. Strikes are set to hit the airport during its peak time, with 3'567 flights expected this weekend alone.

The dispute is hoped to be resolved when a last-ditch arbitration committee meets on July 27.
The airport authority AENA repeated its apologies to passengers for the inconvenience caused by the strikes, but says that unfortunately as the cleaning is the responsibility of private contractors, the situation over the last few days has been out of its control. The strikes have been condemned by the tourism and business sectors with captains of industry urging that if further strikes do go ahead, police be deployed immediately at the airport to prevent any anti-social behaviour like that seen this week.

One spokesman said: “It's one thing to go on strike, and another to make a mess. We will suggest that police be ready for action as soon as another strike starts.” In total over half a million passengers will have passed through the airport this week and next week there is expected to be 668'750.
Tourism chiefs have raised their concerns about the effect on Majorca's tourist trade the industrial action will have.
Britons at the airport earlier this week were outraged at the state of the place, urging for action to clean up the rubbish on hygiene grounds.
Some even suggested it would put people off coming to the island, as it gave such a bad first impression.


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