GSMA promises more details on MWC strike plan

Under the threat of a strike from Barcelona’s transport workers’ union, the TMB, that could disrupt next week’s Mobile World Congress, GSMA has issued a statement promising to reveal its contingency plans on Saturday. With more than 60,000 visitors expected to attend this year’s event, many of whom will be relying on the city’s public transport network, the disturbance to the event could be significant.

But while GSMA has reiterated that it has a “comprehensive contingency plan” in place, it is still keeping the details of this plan secret. “We will make the specific details of the contingency plan available to attendees on Saturday 25th February through a number of mechanisms,” the organisation said in a statement.

Michael O’Hara, chief marketing officer at GSMA told that the body was operating under advice from the Barcelona authorities that it should only communicate its plans “when required and specifically to the people who need the information.”

So is there a fear that the contingency plan could itself be the target of disruption from disgruntled union members if it is widely publicised some time ahead of the event? “I wouldn’t put it exactly like that,” said O’Hara, “it’s just targeted communication to the right people.”

In any case GSMA said it remains hopeful that the city authorities will be able to avert the strike. If they are not, it will be a blow to GSMA’s decision to award Barcelona the status of Mobile World Capital for 2012 – 2018, which was announced in July last year after an 18-month decision making process.

At the time, John Hoffman, CEO of GSMA Ltd, which manages the event, praised Barcelona’s “combination of outstanding exhibition and conference facilities [and] its transportation and hospitality infrastructure.”

Separately the level of street crime in Barcelona remains a concern to some attendees. According to website – set up by a group of pro-Barcelona ex-patriots looking to confront the city’s less tourist-friendly problems – pick-pocketing and bag-snatching are “rampant” in the city. The site has compiled a list of tips that attendees should follow to minimise the risk of falling victim to muggers.

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