Madrid transport chaos as strike enters third day
Transport chaos again hit Madrid Wednesday as a strike by metro workers entered a third day with the system totally shut down and pickets beating up some employees who tried to get to work.
The regional government meanwhile took disciplinary measures against some 200 employees who failed to provide the 50-percent service legally required during such walkouts.
The 7,500 workers are protesting a wage cut of around 5.0 percent decided by the right-wing regional government in line with similar measures on public employees' pay adopted last month by Spain's Socialist government in an austerity drive.
The workers on Wednesday decided to prolong the strike on the metro's 12 lines, including the link to Madrid's Barajas airport, to Thursday and Friday, but promised that this time they would ensure a minimum 50-percent service.
They will go back to work Saturday to Monday, when they will meet again, with the possibility of an open-ended strike thereafter.
Amid the chaos, four non-striking metro workers were beaten up by around 50 pickets as they tried to go to work, the metro company said.
With two million passengers normally carried daily by the metro system, traffic jams blocked the capital's streets, buses and commuter trains were packed to capacity and taxis in huge demand again on Wednesday.
Meanwhile demonstrations were scheduled across Spain on Wednesday in protest at the government's policies aimed at reining in the ballooning public deficit and 20 percent unemployment.
The protests are seen by trade unions as a warm-up to a 24-hour general strike called for September 29 against public spending cuts and reform of the labour laws.
© 2010 AFP