BARCELONA transport authorities have recommended not to attempt to use the underground on Wednesday, the second day of a planned strike deliberately aimed to coincide with the huge Mobile World Congress fair.
Metro staff are protesting over their pay, and all attempts by mayoress and former social rights activist Ada Colau to convince them not to strike failed at the eleventh hour.
Yesterday (Monday) was total chaos on the underground, with buses nose-to-tail in the city's streets and barely one train per 20 minutes at rush hour, leaving stations packed to the brim with annoyed passengers.
The few trains running were rammed solid with strap-hangers as the whole platform was filled five-deep with commuters resigned to being very late for work.
Only 50% of trains were running between 06.30hrs and 09.30hrs and from 16.00hrs to 20.00hrs yesterday, and 30% at other times – a situation which will be the same on Wednesday over a full 24 hours.
A meeting lasting over nine hours on Saturday between the staff committee and the transport authorities in the offices of the secretary for employment in the regional government headquarters ended in stalemate.
Ada Colau is furious with the strikers, saying their action is out of proportion and unnecessary – and even announced in public exactly what the workers earned.
On an average working day, around 1.3 million passengers travel on the metro in Barcelona, of whom 332,000 are on the trains at any time between 05.00hrs and 10.00hrs, and around 120,000 of these between 08.00hrs and 09.00hrs.
But this week, the volume has increased by over 50,000 because of the Mobile World Congress.
This year's edition saw Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg attending, and he was photographed on Monday morning out jogging in the city.