The right to strike and its current reality
Strike action is a constitutionally recognized right of all workers. In fact, we have already talked about the right to strike in this blog, but in view of the latest events this week in Barcelona, we thought it appropriate to review a little what it is and how it can affect in general terms.
As we said in its day, the law allows the exercise of the right to strike, but always with guarantees that ensure minimum services for citizens. This is very clear in the case of public transport, since when a strike is called, the authority must ensure that minimum services are maintained, in order to guarantee the mobility of citizens.
Strike of TMB workers during the week of the Mobile World Congress
The exercise of the right to strike is part of labour demands. Therefore, the incidence that this strike may have on a social and media level may be a determining factor when choosing the dates on which it is carried out.
In this sense, this same week in which the Mobile World Congress is taking place in Barcelona, has been the moment that the TMB workers have believed more suitable to call a strike of several days. This year, moreover, the recently inaugurated metro line L9-Sud, which for the first time connects terminal 1 of the airport with the city of Barcelona through the metro, has been added.
Establishing minimum services
When such a strike is called, the first step is to open negotiations with all the parties involved to try to reach an agreement.
If no agreement can be reached to end the strike, the minimum services necessary to guarantee the service must be established. In the case of the last TMB strike, three 2-hour slots were established (morning, noon and afternoon) in which 50% of the trains/buses ran, and the rest of the time 30%. These measures ensure that people can continue to move by metro and bus, and that there were no large crowds. In fact, due to the excess of private vehicles in the first days, with major collapses in access roads and exit from the city, together with a meteorological situation that influenced greater air pollution, the Generalitat de Catalunya decided to increase the minimum services from the third day of strike.
Not all strikes are legal. In order for a strike to be considered legal (as in the case of the TMB strike) a number of requirements must be met: it must be called by the unions or workers’ representatives, it must have the support of the majority of the company’s workers, it must be communicated sufficiently in advance, and so on.
Normally the strike is ended when the workers so decide or when it has been previously agreed that it will last a certain time. For example, when a general strike is called for a particular day, it will only be that day.
Strike action is a right of every worker and can be freely exercised. For as long as the right to strike is exercised, the employment contract is suspended, so that no wages are earned for that time. A worker who strikes will no longer receive the part of the salary corresponding to the days he lasts, and will also be affected proportionally to the amount of the next extraordinary pay. The worker may not be punished for exercising his right to strike.