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Train strike in Spain called off after unions reach agreement with Renfe

Unions have called off their planned strike action on Spain's state rail network Renfe after making progress in negotiations with company bosses, avoiding delays for thousands of passengers across Spain in October and November.

spain renfe train strike
The cancelled train strike action comes as the Spanish aviation sector faces yet more walk outs. Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS /AFP

Trade unions representing workers on Spain’s state-operated rail network Renfe have called-off planned strike action that was set to delay thousands of passengers across Spain on walk-out days in October and November.

The unions representing rail workers, the General Union of Workers (UGT), the Workers’ Commissions (CC.OO) and the Spanish Union of Railway Drivers (Semaf), stopped the proposed strike action after their latest round of meetings with Renfe bosses had a breakthrough, with the company committing to step-up negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement and setting a schedule for future meetings.

This comes after a year of what the Spanish media has called a ‘block’ on progress, and the President of Renfe, Isaís Táboas, announced last week that following new government measures, the company is able to increase salaries by more than 2 percent.

READ ALSO: Spain’s national rail calls train strikes: What you need to know

“The company [Renfe] is committed to intensifying the negotiations, setting a schedule of meetings to develop points of the Third Collective Agreement on which agreements have not been reached, which added almost a year of delay to the dialogue,” CCOO announced in a statement.

Strike action was called initially for three reasons, according to unions – the lack of trains, the lack of drivers, and the fear that Renfe will transfer its powers first to Catalonia and, later, to other regions across the country.

In future talks, how salary increases put forward in an agreement signed recently on behalf of Civil Service workers by CCOO and UGT with Spain’s Ministry of Finance are implemented will be discussed. The agreement outlines a salary increase of 3.5 percent for 2022, applied retroactively from January 1, 2022, as well as pay increases for 2023 and 2024, which could amount to 3.5 percent and 2.5 percent respectively, and the regularisation of the application of the 35-hour working week on an annual basis.

According to unions, Renfe has also committed to eliminate income categories, which includes a double salary scale, and agreed to extend the temporary hiring of workers, mostly commercial staff, that were brought in to enable to roll-out of Spain’s free travel on Cercanías and Media Distancia train lines.

READ ALSO: GUIDE: How to get free train tickets in Spain

CC.OO claimed that the planned walkout dates were to be part of a “series of protest actions” to show Renfe that they are not listening to their workers, and were scheduled for Friday, October 28th, from midnight to 11pm, Monday, November 7th, from 6am to 9am and from 6pm to 8pm, and Friday, November 11th, from 6am to 9am and from 6pm to 8pm.

The cancelled strike action comes as the Spanish aviation sector faces yet more walk outs, with workers at budget airlines Vueling and Ryanair planning industrial action that could last until the end of January.

READ ALSO: Spain strike woes continue for low-cost airlines Vueling and Ryanair

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TRAVEL NEWS

Spain has third most powerful passport in the world

Those with Spanish citizenship are in luck because their passports are the third most powerful in the world, meaning they can travel to many different countries without the need for a visa.

Spain has third most powerful passport in the world

If you want to go on a last-minute break, it’s really only possible to countries that don’t require you to apply for a visa beforehand or issue you with a visa upon arrival. 

The Henley Passport Index is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and each year it reveals the number of destinations that passport holders from around the world can access without a prior visa.

The index includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations and offers all kinds of information on global mobility, ultimately revealing which passports are the most powerful. 

Each country is scored on the total number of destinations that a holder of its passport can access without a visa. For each travel destination, if a visa is not required, they receive a score of one. This also applies if holders are able to obtain a visa on arrival, visitor permit or electronic travel authorisation (ETA) upon entry.

The rankings for 2023 show that Spain, along with Germany, is in joint third place, meaning that Spanish passport holders can visit a total of 191 countries without needing a visa.

READ ALSO: Why Spain is second favourite country for Americans to move to

In joint first place are Japan and Singapore whose passport holders can visit a total of 193 countries without requiring a visa.

They are closely followed by South Korea in second place, whose passport holders can visit a total of 192 countries.

After Spain and Germany, there are several European countries on the list. Those from Finland, Italy and Luxembourg come in fourth place, able to visit 189 destinations, while those from Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden come in fifth place able to visit 188 destinations.

These are followed by passports from France, Ireland, Portugal and the United Kingdom in sixth place, allowing them to visit 188 countries without a visa.

According to the rankings, only 17 percent of countries give their passport holders access to more than 80 percent of the world without a visa.

The three countries with the least powerful passports are Afghanistan whose holders can only visit 27 countries without the need for a visa, Iraq with a score of 29 and Syria with a score of 30.

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