Agreement on Barcelona Metro ends lengthy pensions dispute

Download article in original language : ES9801142NES.DOC

The four-year dispute between the workers and management of the Barcelona Metro seems to have come to an end in January 1998, with the acceptance by 70% of the workforce of the pension plan that the UGT and CC.OO trade unions negotiated with the company.

Of the 2,517 workers employed by Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB), the Barcelona Metro system, in January 1998 a total of 1,961 workers had accepted the pension plan proposed by the company. This marks the end of a dispute between workers and management that has lasted since 1993 (ES9705108N).

Up to 1992, the employees of TMB had enjoyed better retirement conditions than other workers, which meant that they could retire at the age of 60 on 100% of their previous wage. From then onwards, TMB came under the general social security system according to whose rules it is necessary to retire at 65 in order to obtain 100% of previous pay, whereas those who retire at 60 receive only 60%. Over the last few years, the workers' rejection of the new retirement conditions has led to paralysis on the Barcelona Metro service on many occasions.

In February 1997, the company tried to put an end to the dispute by approaching the workers individually and offering them a pension plan. This move met with a strong rejection by the unions, and further strikes followed during the whole of 1997. Finally, the UGT and CC.OO trade union confederations reached an agreement with TMB that the company would increase its contribution to the pension fund in exchange for the workers giving up their claim to retire at 60 on full pay. The agreement also includes a 2.6% pay increase for 1998 as a personal social welfare supplement for workers who accept it.

Though it initially seemed that this agreement would have little effect because it was rejected by both the General Confederation of Transport (Confederación General del Transporte, CGT) and the two corporate unions within the company, its acceptance by 70% of the workforce demonstrates that it has obtained general support. It is therefore expected that this will put an end to the dispute, which has caused great inconvenience to the commuters of Barcelona.

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