Weekly public transportation strikes, which have been occurring in Madrid since early September as a result of the austerity measures taken by the government, are continuing to affect the lives of NYU students in Madrid.
The battle to avoid seeking a full bailout of Spain’s finances is a continual struggle for the government. Spain is experiencing its second recession in three years with an unemployment rate that has reached near 25 percent. Workers had called the strikes on public transportation in order to protest a restructuring of the transport sector next year that they claim will cost jobs.
Over two million people use the metro daily in Madrid, so these strikes have been creating chaos and a great deal of difficulty for many commuters.
The strikes occur from 7 to 11 a.m. and from 6 to 9 p.m., and have led to the provision of minimal operational services during rush hour as people travel to and from work. Almost 300 high-speed and intercity trains were canceled during the strikes, resulting in a 50 percent reduction in available transportation that ran throughout the day.
The most recent strike was held Oct. 12. The trade unions in Spain called for a general strike in protest against spending cuts and labor market reforms and reductions in public sector wages.
In response to the strikes, Spain’s regional government claimed that the failure to provide even a minimum service on the metro was illegal. However, unions have still not ended the strikes.
Caridad Dawson, Student Life and Wellness coordiantor at NYU Madrid, said she has contacted the transportation organizations multiple times since the start of the semester in regards to the public transportation strikes.
“Public transportation might be chaotic and unpredictable, so the best way to get to and from campus is to take a taxi or walk,” Dawson said. “There may be long delays of public transportation and large crowds of people commuting along the way.”
She advised students to plan accordingly because this will not count as an excused absence.
NYU Madrid students have been taking precautions in getting to and from school to be on time and not face the penalties of missing class.
“It’s important to allow more time for your commute on the days that the strikes occur,” said Global Liberal Studies junior Rose Bowen. “It’s quite the spectacle to see the bus so packed with people that there physically isn’t space for more.”
Bowen said that although the first time she left with extra time and was to class early, when she maintained her normal routine, she was late to class.
According to Focus Information Agency, the Leaders of the Comisiones Obreras and the Union General de Trabajadores are meeting today to discuss a general strike for Nov. 14.
Natasha Babazadeh is a foreign correspondent. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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