Tomorrow, Wednesday 29th September, Spain enters it’s fifth national strike since democracy, and the first under the rule of ZP.
I thought it would be useful to jot down the minimum service levels arranged for Almería, as published this morning in the BOJA:
Headmasters will not be allowed to strike. Teachers have the option of striking if they want to. Check with your school to see if they will be open. Nobody has said whether children are encouraged or not to go to school, but they will be open.
The same minimum levels of public health will be provided as on a national holiday day, so A&E and larger GP surgeries will be open. It’s recommended that you don’t go unless it’s an emergency.
All rubbish collection will continue 100% as normal.
All courts will have at least one person sitting, although all non essential cases will be delayed by one day.
All public markets (not shops!) must guarantee that at least two maintainence workers and two service workers are on duty on all shifts.
33 petrol stations will be open across the province. All others will be closed.
Only 25% of normal buses will be running, 25% of scheduled trains and 10% of national flights.
Only 10% of national flights will fly tomorrow. Many international flights will continue as normal, but expect heavy delays as baggage attendents and airport staff don’t show up to work. Ryanair and Easyjet say they have no intention of cancelling flights, but warn passengers to take only hand luggage. Immigration and security staff should be working as normal. Check with your airline; worst case, expect heavy delays or cancellations as flights aren’t serviced and planes overrun.
Firemen, funeral parlours, Civil Protection, emergency utility workers teams and suchlike will be running at 100%.
ASHAL, the provincial federation of bars and restaurants has not issued any guidelines for the strike. It is up to each worker to decide whether or not to strike. The current economic climate means it is likely that most bars and restaurants will open as normal.
It’s expected that waves of strikes will prevent many papers from being published tomorrow, as well as causing issues with TV and radio broadcasts. We may get lucky and get a rouge operator doing something funny with the broadcast. Minimum service is supposed to be enforced for news and entertainment broadcasts.
The company that delivers UK papers to the area have confirmed that they are expecting to deliver as normal and that their staff will not be striking. However, they have warned that this depends on being able to get the papers past possible pickets outside the printing presses, and any wildcat strikes they encounter enroute.
Depending on individual agreements supermarkets will either open or close tomorrow. Many small ones will probably be open. Probably best to avoid the large chains and large shopping centres, or call before going, as unions have also declared tomorrow to be “a day without spending” and are urging consumers not to go shopping. Most unionised supermarkets will, I imagine, be closed. Large shopping centers may be targets for pickets.
In large cities, stay away from industrial hubs or government offices as it is likely that pickets will be setup. Marches and demonstrations are expected in city centres across the nation. If you come across a march, wave and smile – a lot of shouting will be going on, but I doubt anything nasty will happen. (Try not to look like a fat cat banker, or senior politician).
Quick round of phone calls, and nobody is expecting anything to change tomorrow. Most townhall staff are expected to turn up as normal, nobody has heard of any plans for official pickets, marches or troublemaking. “The worst we expect”, said a mate of mine from Turre townhall, “is that people will start drinking on Wednesday and not stop until Monday, because the fiestas start Thursday”.
The only official march I can find for the province is the one in Almería city, which starts at the Puerta Purchena at 12, weaves all over the place blocking as much traffic as possible and ends at the Conserjería de Empleo, where some eggs may well be thrown, and speeches will be made by local IU and union worthies.
Generally, nobody is really enthusiastic about this strike. Unions seem to have been forced into it against their will after ZP called their bluff, and the economic crisis means people are too worried about loosing their jobs, or at least a days pay, to put much effort into striking. Out of two dozen people I’ve spoken to, only a couple (both IU active members) are actively striking, the rest plan to carry on as normal.
In the first ever general strike, in 1988, 90% of the population went on strike and it was declared a huge success that changed the face of the nation. For this one, the unions are “hoping” for 70%, and it looks closer to 50-60% of people will strike. ZP has refused to negotiate on the 2011 budget, and has warned unions that if they don’t meet with his government today or tomorrow the proposed budget will go before congress on Thursday without their input. ZP says he is relaxed about the strike and that he will continue to do what is necessary to bring about economic recovery in Spain – the unions don’t even seem to be able to agree what it is they’re striking for.