Friday, December 21, 2007

Some of the bus drivers are on strike today, so the whole city was snarled up as usual whenever they put on one of these things. According to law, public workers are allowed to strike but must provide "minimum services," which in this case means they have to run 50% of the scheduled buses. The strike is supposed to last seven days, and should muck things up pretty good during the upcoming Christmas break.

The majority unions, the Socialist UGT and the Communist CCOO, are against the strike, and they agree with the municipality that any large-scale rescheduling should happen at the end of 2008. The municipality says that only 40% of the drivers went out today; the Trotskyist CGT union, a particularly nefarious bunch of agitators who got control over the workers' council and called this strike, claims that 85% of them went out.

The drivers are demanding two consecutive days off a week, and the company is willing to set things up so they'll get an average of 1.9 days off a week per year. Right now they get a minimum of 1.6 days off each week per year.

You know, their demand is not unreasonable, though if they want an extra 0.4 days off per week, they'll have to accept a slightly reduced salary.

The problem is the way they go about it. It's traditional in Spain for what they call "piokets" to go around and stir shit up whenever there's a strike. These dirtbags' behavior has nothing to do with a peaceful picket line; they attacked 28 buses today, breaking windows, smashing rear-view mirrors, and puncturing tires. On Calle Entença they threw ball bearings at a moving bus, smashing a window and injuring a passenger. About a hundred picketers blocked off the Sant Andreu bus garage and didn't let any of the minimum services buses out, and they got charged by the riot squad. Five hundred more picketers blocked off Calle Sants and refused to let anyone pass.

And picketers never, never get arrested. I'd haul the lot off to jail just like I would with any other bunch of vandals destroying city property and putting citizens in danger.

Repsol announced that it is going to sell off 25% of its Argentinian subsidiary, YPF, to a private Argentine citizen for $2.2 billion.

Zap and Rajoy are going to debate on February 25 and March 3 on television; the election will be March 9. I wouldn't have agreed to that if I were Zap. He's a couple of points ahead in all the polls and there's no reason he can't keep his lead barring a surprise disaster. The economy is going along pretty well and Spain doesn't have any incredibly serious problems--lots of things could be improved, and probably should be, but nothing is urgent. Debates aren't traditional in Spain anyway; in the US a candidate has to debate his opponent or he'll look bad, but those expectations don't hold here. Now Rajoy has a chance to look good at Zap's expense, and I think Rajoy's a better debater than Zap is. Zap has everything to lose and little to gain by debating.

Barça drew Glasgow Celtic in the first round of the Champions' League, and should have no trouble with them. There'll be another lot of Glaswegians in Barcelona, not long after 20,000 Rangers fans showed up and irritated many Barcelonese by getting drunk and urinating in the Plaza Catalunya. Hey, Mr. Mayor, how about putting out portable toilets this time?

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