The tour operators consider delaying flights and hiring taxis

With just five days to go to the general strike, the dispute about minimum coach services to the airport continues. Although the unions are claiming that the strike has the full backing of the workers, a survey conducted yesterday showed uneven support and revealed that many workers do not know what the strike is all about. The strike is over the sweeping reforms to unemployment benefits approved by José María Aznar's government. The greatest support is in the services sector, which is the one most affected by the reforms, as many workers are on temporary contracts and are recalled by the same employer every summer. The effects of the strike at the airport will be aggravated by the strike of the French air traffic controllers on Wednesday. It was reported yesterday that British and German tour operators are trying to mitigate the effects of the strike by delaying their flights to June 21. This would mean the German authorities would have to grant permission for the airports to remain open at night. The government has ordered minimum services of 30 coaches (20 in Majorca, four in Minorca and six in Ibiza), but hoteliers and tour operators claim that this is insufficient to transport the 60'000 passengers expected to use the airport that day. The government plan is to use the coaches to transport the very young, the elderly and the disabled to their resorts, although once there they will have to make their own way to their hotels. The unions are adamant that they will not comply with this service. Hoteliers say guests will be allowed to stay in their rooms until the last minute. Tour operators are also studying the possibility of hiring taxis, although they say that this means they will “have to pay through the nose.” There is also the risk of problems with pickets at the airport, as was the case last year. The hoteliers have called on the unions and workers to show a sense of responsibility, and accused the local government of being blind to reality.

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