Public transport in Barcelona is reported as functioning normally at the start of a day of general strike called by minority Spanish trade unions (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). According to TMB, the company in charge of public transport in the city, buses have left depots as planned and without being affected by picket-lines that have yet to materialise. The metro is operating as if it were a normal workday, while the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat (FGC), local trains and trams are also running without problems. The only incident so far reported occurred when members of a picket-line caused a branch to fall on the FGC line between the stations of Saint Quirze and Universitat Autònoma, causing delays of up to 15 minutes on services until the situation was resolved at approximately 7.30am.
The Generalitat has said that it will support the application in Catalunya of a precedent set by a Navarra judge regarding the ending of mortgage debt if a bank client defaults on their payments (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The Secretary of Housing in the Catalan government, Carles Sala, says he considers the ruling "an invitation to a debate" - the judge, in the provincial court of Navarra, came down on the side of a client of BBVA bank in declaring that if a customer loses their property due to defaulting on their mortgage payments, then their debt with the bank should be considered as cleared. Sala said he was in favour of legal changes to progressively introduce this concept, known as 'dación en pago'. He also went on to say that it was important at a time when many families were affected by problems in coping with their mortgage repayments. However, Sala also warned that the application of dación could cause banks to reduce the amount of credit that they give out, a threat that echoes a statement from the Spanish Association of Banks that banks and savings banks would, as a result of such a move, reduce their credit lines and make them more expensive at the same time.
The Metropolitan Institute of Taxis will freeze the issuing of new taxi licences issued in Barcelona for at least a year (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The board of directors of the Institut Metropolità del Taxi approved the move yesterday, which will affect those licences that can be used by more than one driver. The current economic crisis has seen a huge rise in the number of taxi licences that are used on a double shift system—in 2005, there were 830 such licences in issue, whereas there are now 2,575, of which around 1,100 are owned by companies. The total number of taxi licences in Barcelona currently is 10,500. The advantage of licences that allow more than one driver to use a taxi is that it enables the owner of the car to make as much money as possible from it, by having it available for hire more hours a day, something that has become particularly attractive in the face of the economic crisis.
Also in the news: The Spanish government and trade unions have reached a tentative agreement regarding changes to pensions.The new retirement age will be set at 67 years, but anyone who has worked for at least 39.5 years and made social security contributions throughout that period will be able to retire at 65 (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico).
Various media are reporting that José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero will definitely not stand in next year's Spanish general elections. The announcement will apparently be made formally in September, when vice-president Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba will step into Zapatero's shoes (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia).