Trade unions and the airport management company AENA have reached a pre-agreement to avoid the planned strike action by airport staff that had threatened the holiday plans of many in the spring and summer (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The unions involved, CCOO, UGT and USO, which had organised strike action for 22 days this year starting during Easter week, will now take the preliminary agreement to a referendum to see if their members are happy with the terms reached and whether the stoppages should be called off as a result. The unions represent 85 percent of AENA employees and managed to find common ground with the company following a marathon meeting lasting 17 hours. The terms of the agreement include the maintaining of all job positions, and the application of the existing 'collective agreement' (which determines salary and working hours, amongst other features) to whatever future scenario that may be created in the new management model of Spanish airports, which are due to be partially privatised. The pre-agreement has to be agreed by the federations of all the unions involved and later by workers' assemblies, which are due to be held in the middle of next week.
FC Barcelona player Eric Abidal is suffering from a tumour on his liver and is due to be operated on this Friday (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The French defender, who is 31, will undergo the emergency surgery at the Hospital Clínic in Barcelona following the discovery of the tumour, as announced last night by a member of the club's medical team. Abidal had agreed for the news to be released but asked, via the club, for "maximum respect" regarding the delicate health situation in which he finds himself. The diagnosis was notified to the player yesterday afternoon, after the tumour was discovered as part of routine tests that were carried out on him and the other Barça players during two rest days given by team coach, Pep Guardiola. Abidal played on Sunday at Seville, apparently with maximum fitness, as he has done during the past weeks, when he has been one of the key members of the team. The operation will be done at Barna Clinic, the private section of the public hospital in the centre of the Eixample Esquerra (where the Spanish king Juan Carlos I was recently operated on). The process will see the removal of the tumour, which will then be analysed to see if it is malign or benign.
The Generalitat is planning to cut the number of civil servants (funcionaris) that it employs, as part of its programme to reduce costs (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The Catalan government has calculated that this year around 100 public companies and other enterprises that depend on the Generalitat will be closed down; they are currently studying the cuts and how many workers will be affected. Sources from the Generalitat have confirmed that there will be redundancies and that those who will be most affected will be those with an interim contract, (ie. a provisional post) even though they might have been doing their job with such a contract for many years. At the present time, around 230,000 people work for the public administration. However, yesterday's announcement was not all bad news. The Generalitat is looking at new ways to reward those civil servants who work hard. "It's a question of rewarding their effort," commented sources from the department of Governació. One option for achieving this is to review the annual bonus that all civil servants receive at the end of the year, to make it more dependent on productivity. Other possibilities would be to award such workers more points that public employees need to earn to be able to change position or provide greater access to courses for the most efficient employees.