Do you know how many pesetas there are to a euro? Have you an idea what a euro note looks like? do you realise that in just under two months time the euro will be introduced? These are key questions and I doubt that some people in Majorca either know the answer or realise how close the single currency is. Banks have already started operating in euros and many have got a fright to be handed a balance sheet in euros rather than pesetas. Is the Balearics prepared for the single currency? I don't think so. This state of confusion will cause serious problems on January 1 and the following weeks and months. Why didn't the government, the regional authorities make more of an effort to make sure that everyone living here knew everything about the single currency. Its not as if it was introduced at short notice. The government has had years to prepare but little has been done and now we are facing a nightmare scenario. I was told the other night that New Year's Eve revellers will be handed their change in euros after mid night which is bound to cause confusion. Already the elderly are being targetted by people who are offering to “change” their pesetas into euros. The practice is widespread on the mainland and hundreds of OAPs have been fooled.

All this could have easily been avoided if the authorities had done their homework. I sincerely hope that the introduction process goes smoothly but if it doesn't we know who to blame. Months have been wasted and widespread confusion created and all because no-one could be bothered to tackle the problem head-on.

Jason Moore

Workers' rights

It is not surprising that the Confederation of British Industry took a more confrontational approach to its relations with the Government at its weekend conference. Manufacturing industry's long-standing difficulty with the strong pound has been compounded by the serious down-turn in the global economy and many other sectors see trouble ahead.

Digby Jones, the CBI's Director-General, said that since the election “the unions have got their tails up; I am looking for more action from the Government to show that the unions are not getting it all their own way. The Government are going to have to decide. Are they going to play with the unions? Or are they going to go with wealth creation in Britain?” Rhetoric of this kind is a long way from the kind of “business-friendly” partnership that was struck up between Labour and industry before and after the 1997 election. Unions are likely to be amused, if they are not angry, about Mr Jones's assertions. Trade union rights are nowhere near as broadly and generously established in Britain as they are in the rest of the European Union.

A recent example was the UK-style peremptory dismissal of hundreds of Marks & Spencer employees in France and Spain; these were successfully challenged under EU labour laws which required M&S to make an effort to sell their stores to companies which would employ the existing staff. Last week it was announced that Galeries Lafayette, in France, and Corte Ingles in Spain had bought the M&S businesses and would operate them with the staff already in place.



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