Union leaders admitted that tension has spilled out into violence in some areas.

Those who tried to go about their daily shopping routines yesterday were either met with closed shops or hundreds of noisy, and at times intimidating, shopkeepers protesting outside super and hypermarkets across Majorca as part of the national shopkeepers' strike, which was more or less ignored in Minorca and Ibiza. According to unions and representatives for the small shopkeepers associations in Majorca the strike, called in protest over central government's easing of trading hours in order to create a more liberal market, similar to the rest of the European Union, and thus provide a better service for consumers, said last night that 80 percent of the small shopkeepers in Majorca took part in the day of protest and remained closed for business. In Palma the figure was reported to have been as high as 90 percent and some of the city centre stores which did open were picketed by noisy and intimidating shopkeepers who at times tried to prevent the general public from shopping and had to be forced back by the police. By mid-day, after a morning of flash protests and pickets outside department stores and hypermarkets, some 2'000 shopkeepers and union activists had gathered in the Plaza de España in protest against a free market. With shouts of “work yes, fiestas no” and “Aznar listen, shopkeepers are at war” the rally led by local union and commercial association bosses marched through the streets of the capital to the central government delegate's office, which has been the scene of a long stream of protests this summer, where an official letter of protest was handed over. Union leaders proclaimed yesterday's march, also in protest against “slavery in the commercial sector” and the high level of participation as a “success for the union movement.”