Thousands of commuters are facing delays on their journey to work this morning as the result of a strike by train engineers and drivers (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The huelga de celo (go-slow strike) has been called by workers on the regional Rodalies system—two trains have not left the terminus due to the strike action and this has caused a knock-on of delays across the range of timetabled services. Train operator Renfe has said that it can not give concrete details about which trains are affected because it depends on which workers are actually coming to work, a variable it does not know. Renfe, which has blamed the action on "employment conflicts", also says that it cannot guarantee any of the Rodalies services today; yesterday afternoon, the go-slow strike already caused problems for many travellers with delays of more than an hour on all the Rodalies lines. The train worker trade union Semaf denied yesterday that it had organised any strike action and said the problems with the services was a result of bad organisation. However, another trade union, CCOO, has separated itself from the protest and called on Semaf to end its strike.
Following the initial wave of mergers between small savings bank (caixes) in Catalunya and Spain in light of the economic crisis, the Spanish Ministry of Economy has now said that it will force weak financial entities to nationalise as a way to shore up the economy (read article in Catalan here, Avui). The caixes that will be affected are those that don't manage to attain an eight percent of high-quality 'core capital', money that the savings bank has to have immediately available in case of problems that arise in the financial system. Any that don't meet this criteria will be forced by the Bank of Spain to transform into banks and the Fondo de Reestructuración Ordenada Bancaria (FROB) will intervene to buy shares in the bank that have a right to vote. The Spanish economic vice-president Elena Salgado said that the Spanish financial system was generally in good order but that she would take action to reassure the international markets regarding some entities that have problems and are undermined by real estate risk. The Spanish government is concerned that local savings banks will come out badly in the European stress testing being carried out in June and is taking these moves to pre-empt difficulties down the line.
The security forces have said that more buildings could be occupied as part of the general strike action called for Thursday by some of the minority Spanish trade unions (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Over the weekend, squatters occupied the Palacio Cinema on Via Laietana, just one of the actions organised by the group Asamblea de Barcelona in recent days in protest at the Spanish government's proposed pension reforms. The police moved quickly to remove the squatters from the Palacio Cinema, but they report they are on alert for similar actions in the coming days. Police sources told La Vanguardia that there is a high risk of disturbances on Thursday as happened during the larger-scale general strike of September 29th, 2010. In consequence, a special police operation is being undertaken to deal with any illegal activity that occurs in relation to Thursday's strike action. Unions including CGT, CNT and COS have organised a demonstration for Thursday afternoon, leaving from Jardins de Gràcia at 5.30pm and due to arrive at Plaça Universitat at 7pm. However, the police fear that the event will attract people not connected to the trade unions with the aim of causing disruption in the streets of Barcelona, which is what occurred in September last year.