Security staff at Barcelona airport are beginning a continuous 24-hour strike over pay after voting to reject a company offer.
The workers are stepping up their action after staging on-off stoppages for several weeks.
The government has vowed to send in police to make sure the airport continues to function and wants an arbitration tribunal to rule on the matter.
Diego Giraldez, a national official with the UGT union, told euronews that the airport had chosen a private security company which paid workers less than the previous contractor. He blames the government.
“It (the government) has been hiding without taking any action, and when it has chosen to act it’s done so very disproportionately,” he said. “And I think that has ensnared a situation of greater tension towards the security guards, who in the end the Government has designated as the guilty parties – whereas every day the UGT union say the blame lies with the disastrous policies towards private security recruitment – which besides is the direct responsibility of the government of the Popular Party.”
Madrid says it has no option but to send in the Guardia Civil because the strike threatens passengers, the country’s image, and security and public order.
The union is looking to extend the industrial action to La Coruña and Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain.
“We have called a strike at airports in Galicia, and obviously we will be on the street and we will call for all the mobilisation that workers in the sector require,” Giraldez said.
In Barcelona security workers complain that as well as low – salaries start at 800 euros a month – understaffing has brought overwork.
The company and union are now left to negotiate alone as the regional Catalan government has pulled out.