Expatica news

Breakdown drivers offerolive branch to stop strike

27 August 2004

MADRID – The threatened strike by motorway recovery drivers looked set to be called off Friday as drivers’ leaders offered to compromise.

Bosses of the tow-truck firms said they would call off the strike if the insurers accepted a compromise deal on pay, said Rafael Merino, president of Aneac which represents the drivers.

Merino said: “We accept the offer of dialogue from the Unespa (the insurers association) an if they accept two points which we want to introduce then we will call of the strike in Spain.”

The Spanish government became involved late Thursday trying to avert a strike on the busiest weekend of the year on Spain’s roads as thousands head home after the summer holiday break.

The Ministry of the Economy and the National Traffic Authority tried to bring both sides together to stop an out-and-out stoppage by tow-truck drivers.

But there were still stoppages Friday in 11 of Spain’s 16 autonomous regions.

Unespa was considering the offer and looked set to try to stave off a full-scale strike.

One hundred and eighty Army tow-trucks were being deployed by the government across Spain if the strike carrried on over to the weekend and paralysed Spain’s roads.

It was part of the government’s emergency plan to avert major problems on the country’s roads while the strike threated to escalate. 

In an effort to end the chaos, the government was also preparing to use fire engines and council tow trucks to remove disabled vehicles from roadways, officials said.

Eight thousand traffic police stepped up their efforts to ensure the safety of returning holidaymakers given the added risks resulting from the conflict between insurance and towing companies.

Recovery companies are protesting at fees paid by insurers for towing broken-down cars.

The recovery drivers association claimed that as many as 1.5 million motorists could be hit by the action this weekend.

The tow-truck drivers want insurance companies to pay between EUR 44-66 per pick-up instead of the EUR 25 which they are paid now.

Unespa has claimed each company should negotiate with each insurance firm, instead of trying to set a national minimum.

Tow-truck drivers claim at this time in the year, there are up to 165,000 calls across the country each day.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news