Spanish unions to strike against seperation Catalunya commuter rail from Renfe
The general company committees of Adif and Renfe have on Wednesday called for five days of 24-hour nationwide strikes in November and December. They protest against the transfer of control of the local train network Rodalies de Catalunya, creating a new commercial company to replace Renfe as the operator of the service. They also protest the intention to privatise the Renfe Freight branch.
The transfer of control of the Rodalies de Catalunya has been agreed upon between the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and the pro-Catalan independence party Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC). Both parties have been in Brussels for days finalising an agreement that would give Sánchez the necessary votes to be sworn in as president of the Government, following a long period since the Spanish general elections held on 23 July ended in a stalemate.
One of the demands that the Catalan party put on the table is that the Commuter railway control would be transferred from Renfe to a new entity. Its board of directors would be made up of equal parts by the Spanish State and the Catalan Generalitat – with a casting vote for the president, proposed by the Generalitat, reports newspaper 20 Minutos. Strategic decisions must be made by a qualified majority.
The general secretary of the Semaf train drivers union, Diego Martín, already told the organisation’s rejection of the agreement between PSOE and ERC for the transfer of Rodalies to the Catalan government and has announced “mobilisations and imminent conflict”, in statements to Europa Press last week. They criticise that nothing has been explained to the employees and they have no idea of the impact. Now, a strike has officially been called by the unions for November 24 and 30 and December 1, 4 and 5. It is not ruled out to extend it to other dates. The decision has been made unanimously by the union organisations represented on the committee – Semaf, CC OO, UGT, CGT, SCF and SF.
Concerns about working conditions
Wednesday morning, the General Committees of Adif and the Renfe Group met to analyse the situation generated by the Government’s plans to transfer the Rodalies to the Generalitat de Catalunya, including the staff, trains, infrastructure, traffic management, stations, workshops and everything necessary for the operation of trains and the maintenance of the infrastructure, and the intention to privatise the Renfe Freight branch.
There are around 3,800 employees of Renfe and Adif in Catalonia, reported 20 Minutos. “We are concerned about what the future will be for the workers affected by this eventual transfer and especially what the conditions will be. We are talking about public companies with an important quality of employment”, said Rafael García, from CC OO, in an interview on broadcast RTVE.
In a statement by the SF – Sindicato Ferroviario – the union says that “Renfe and Adif workers are not willing to accept an aggression such as the one they intend to perpetrate on the public railway companies, and this feeling is palpable in all workplaces”. Adif and Renfe have not yet come forward with an official response when writing this article.