Rail passengers in Malaga. File photograph. / SUR

Renfe and the train drivers' union reach a late-night deal to call off strikes

The stoppages were due to continue this Friday, 8 October, and next Monday and Tuesday. The rail operator has agreed to "recover the train service and staffing levels to pre-Covid levels"

EUROPA PRESS

An agreement was reached late on Thursday night, 7 October, between Spain’s national rail operator, Renfe, and the train drivers’ union Semaf to call off their strikes.

The trade union action began on 30 September and more stoppages were planned this Friday, 8 October, and Monday and Tuesday of next week, 11 and 12 October.

According to the union, Renfe has now agreed to meet their demand to "recover the train service and staffing levels that the company provided to the public before Covid."

Semaf explained in a statement that another of the agreements they have reached is "the commitment to maintain the integrity of the company and its staff in the face of privatisations and transfers."

Fewer trains

The rail union went on to claim that currently Renfe runs "861 fewer trains per day, compared to 2019. That is 25,830 fewer trains per month and 309,960 fewer trains per year."

The Semaf statement continued, "the company took advantange of the Covid- 19 pandemic” to reduce trains “and they have even left populations without any service."

The train drivers’ union said it "deeply" regrets the situation "caused by the Renfe Group," that rail passengers have had to endure during the days of strike action. “Renfe management has left it until the last minute to agree on the measures that will allow the recovery of the company itself.”

Spain’s Minister of Transport, Raquel Sánchez, confirmed that the Semaf union and Renfe have reached an agreement to call off the strike, which "endorses measures" including the recovery services and recruitment of new drivers that the company "already had in place”.

In a statement, Renfe maintained that they have held talks with the union "since the protests began, despite their failure to comply with minimum service agreements."