.- Members of the General Workers’ Union of Spain employed by Madrid’s Metro subway system said they have been “forced” to call for strikes during World Youth Day over salary negotiations.
Union leaders told Europa Press that the strikes are taking place due to the “failure to implement salary raises agreed to in a collective agreement for 2011 and the breakdown of collective bargaining.”
The strikes are scheduled to take place during the afternoon shifts on August 18 and the entire day on August 20 and 21, during Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the Spanish capital.
Workers argued that the financial crisis that led to a decrease in pay last year “seems to have ended coincidentally with the visit by the Catholic Church’s highest authority” and that “there don’t appear to be any economic problems to prevent increasing service on the days of the visit by His Holiness.”
Despite the planned strikes, Ignacio Gonzalez Velayos, an official with the Madrid Metro, said the subways would be operating “normally” during the Holy Father’s visit.
“The Community of Madrid will ensure a minimum of transportation services are available during those days, and of course all those who come to visit the Pope are going to have public transportation and the Metro will be operating completely as normal,” he said.
He also said the plans being made to serve the thousands coming for World Youth Day would not cost the government “one euro.”