Strike halts Madrid subway again

Strike halts Madrid subway again
# 30 June 2010 21:28 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. Spain’s capital endured a second day without subway service Wednesday, with big traffic jams forming as people scrambled to find alternative transport, as workers went on strike over pay cuts that are part of government austerity plans, APA reports quoting “Associated Press”.
No negotiations were planned and workers voted to continue the walkout for two more days, although they vowed to comply with a legal obligation to run half the trains scheduled.
Trains will operate as normal over the weekend, then there will be another vote Monday on how to proceed, unions said.
The partial service promised for Thursday and Friday means the subway line running to and from Madrid’s busy Barajas airport will be back in service just as the summer vacation season begins on earnest on July 1.
Morning rush hour traffic was a third heavier than usual as people took to cars and buses, city officials said. But they said the gridlock was not as bad as the first day of the strike, when unions announced unexpectedly that they were reneging on an obligation to run 50 percent of scheduled trains.
The network carries more than two million travelers a day.
Worker are protesting a 5 percent pay cut ordered by the Madrid regional government, which oversees the metro system.
The regional government tried and failed Tuesday evening to get the line to the airport up and running. It said there were drivers available to man the trains, but it decided in the end to hold off because it could not guarantee the line would stay open Wednesday.
Madrid mayor Alberto Ruiz Gallardon criticized unions for not living up to a binding agreement to provide at least 50 percent service.
"They do not have the right to do what they are doing to all the people of Madrid. I think we are in an emergency situation now in Madrid," he told Cadena Ser radio.
The strike actually began Monday, but that day union honored the minimum services rule.
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