Just as Spain's hot summer weather finally kicks off, workers at Spanish ice cream factories downed tools on Friday as negotiations freeze with the industry's employer body.
It seems that tensions between the Spanish Association of Ice Cream Makers (AEFH) and the staff working in the factories have been high for some time. Reportedly workers have been on a go-slow since June 28, switching off the machines for two hours per day.
Now the workers are pushing up the pressure on their employers, in an industry that directly affects around 2,000 to 3,500 jobs. Friday saw a 24-hour strike, which 95% of staff had promised to attend, according to Spanish general union CCOO.
The reason for the strike is a stalemate over a new collective employment agreement for the sector. Apparently the previous deal expired at the end of 2010 and a new draft has been hanging around since 2011 with nothing finalized.
Unless a new deal is struck soon, the whole bargaining process could come to a halt as new Spanish laws put a timeline on negotiations for new industry workplace agreements. And so, workers in the sector now threaten an indefinite strike unless their demands are met.
Initially unions, including the CCOO and the General Workers Union, forged a plan with the AEFH, which would have kept the current workplace agreement going until end 2013. However, the CCOO said industry owners had treated that plan with "contempt".
The union said in a statement, "We are open to dialogue but not in exchange for making returning workers to the stone age."
"If they want to avoid this strike, they need to prepare a reasonable and coherent proposal".
Companies most affected by the strike are Menorquina-Kalise, La Jijonenca and Farggi.
With July and August the hottest months of the year in Spain, ice cream could possibly end up in short supply. A chilling thought indeed.
To the source: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/353808