The EMAYA (water board) workers who collect the rubbish every night have announced an indefinite strike starting Monday, March 25, to protest at management's failure to pay an increase agreed at the last round of pay talks. According to the workers, when the wage agreement was signed in July 2000, management and workers agreed that pay for workers in the two sections of EMAYA -- those who clean the streets and collect the rubbish and those involved in water management -- would be brought into line from January this year. The management has failed to do this, say the workers, who should have received a 54 euro a month rise to bring their pay into line with those of the water division. A dozen workers from the environment department have been staging a sit-in at the company's headquarters in calle Joan Maragall since Wednesday, to bring pressure to bear. A group of workers gathered outside the building yesterday, to show their support of their colleagues. The unions yesterday apologised to the public in advance, for the inconvenience which will be caused by the strike, “but it is the only way to make the politicians keep to what they have signed.” They criticised company chairman Maria Crespo for “refusing to meet the workers and pay what is stipulated in the wage agreement.” Union spokesman José de las Heras said that if the politicians do not keep to what is signed, “who is going to believe what they promise?” He added that minimum services will be negotiated. The unions pointed out the negative effects of the six-day rubbish strike in 1989. This time round, they are debating whether or not they are obliged to collect rubbish from hospitals and schools as the rubbish is now placed in containers outside the premises, unlike 1989, when the containers were inside the precincts. The unions also told the conservative Palma city council that the increase in their pay should have been included in this year's budget. But their worst criticism was kept for Maria Crespo, for failing to meet union officials and for constantly postponing meetings with the unions.

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