Five-day Spanish rail strike averted by transport minister
A five-day strike announced by employees of Renfe and Adif was expected to cause a significant impact on railway operations in the Iberian country, with up to 900 cancelled freight trains. However, the intervention of Spanish Transport Minister Oscar Puente, who reached an agreement with the railway unions, averted the situation at the last minute.
Six railway unions called the strike to protest the decision to transfer the administration of Rodalies rail services in Catalonia from the Central Spanish government to the Catalan government. The strike was planned for five days, specifically for 24 and 30 November and 1, 4, and 5 December. It would take thousands of rail services out of the timetable, hundreds of which would be freight trains.
Rodalies services are operated by national company Renfe, while Adif manages the infrastructure they run on. The transfer of their administration to the Catalan government would be followed by a takeover of part of Renfe Mercansias’ services, the freight division of Renfe, by a private operator. As a result, employees were concerned that the transition would possibly impact job positions and asked for the services of Renfe Mercancias to be unaffected.
In the end, the strike was averted by the direct intervention of transport minister Puente just one day before its start. Puente reached an agreement with the railway unions involved, guaranteeing that they will actively participate in the Rodalies management transfer process and in determining the best possible solution for the future of Renfe Mercancias services.
From now on, railway workers will have legal representation at the negotiation table and in the decision-making process. At the same time, the ministry decided to establish “a permanent dialogue table” through which Renfe and Adif employees can voice their vision and ideas. From their side, the unions commented that they were happy with the development and had reached all their demands; thus, the strike was called off.