Another strike at Spanish rail operator Renfe on Friday

by Lorraine Williamson
rail strike

Friday will see the second strike this week at Spanish national rail company Renfe. The strike has been called by the minority trade union CGT and is supported by around 200 workers. Furthermore, minimum shifts are set. 

The union is considering calling more strike days because Renfe refuses to include its demands in the preliminary agreement. Moreover, this was only concluded with the unions CCOO, UGT, and Semaf. Renfe has stated that Friday’s strike will “affect the mobility needs of tens of thousands of citizens”. 

Minimal services 

According to the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda (Mitma) resolution, the minimum essential service is set at 75% during rush hour on the Cercanías-the short-distance trains-and 50% of the usual service for the rest of the day.  

In the Media Distancia trains, an average of 65% of usual services has been set, and in the Alta Velocidad and Larga Distancia trains 72%. In Catalonia, for the short-distance Rodalies trains, the sub-government has set 66% of services during rush hour and 33% outside.  

The resolution for minimum services includes all Media Distancia and AVE, Avlo, Alvia, Euromed and Intercity trains running according to their usual timetable on that day. 

‘The CGT union has a minority in the general works committee with two representatives out of 13 members (4 Semaf, 3 CCOO, 3 UGT, 2 CGT and 1 SF). CGT maintains the strikes despite the recent signing of Renfe Operadora’s third collective bargaining agreement. This includes, among other improvements, wage increases for the years 2022, 2023 and 2024. ‘The agreement was signed by the unions with a majority and the company’s management,’ Renfe said.  In reality, no union is in the majority, together they do form a majority. 

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Rail strike called this week 

The CGT called two strikes, on 7 and 11 November. Last Monday, 217 out of 7,468 workers, between 2% and 3%, took part in the strike, according to the company. According to figures from the union, on the first day of the strike, 87% of staff who were not required to work minimum shifts were on strike. The parties met on Thursday, on the eve of the second day of protest. 

Will more strike days follow? 

The CGT called the two strike days after the company refused to include some of its demands in the preliminary agreement, which it then signed only with Semaf, CCOO and UGT. The union is now considering calling for further mobilisations. 

A plenary meeting with the rest of the union branches will be held next week. Then CGT will assess whether there will be more strikes, as announced at a press conference on Thursday. There is a possibility that CGT may call another strike for 2 December. No final decision has been taken on that yet.  

The CGT believes that Renfe and the other union organisations that formed a majority reached a collective agreement behind the backs of the works council and workers. However, it is “insufficient to improve the working conditions of railway workers”. 

Wage increase 

The organisation is demanding a wage increase linked to the real Consumer Price Index, which would prevent loss of purchasing power, as well as the elimination of double pay scales (which produce differences of up to 25%) or the increase of staff income. 

Also read: RENFE attracts more passengers

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