Staff reporter:
BALEARIC Society will have to reopen the issue of seasonal employment. This was one of the issues debated in the Social Forum which is being held in Palma. Economist Pere Mascaró told a Press conference yesterday that in the future, immigrant labour from outside the European Union will substitute the nearly 60'000 workers from the Peninsula who are employed on the Islands in the tourist industry during the summer months. These seasonal staff return to their mainland homes during the winter.
Mascaró went on to say that new social needs arising from economic change will create “difficulties”, possibly hard to overcome. On Majorca, however, there will be a slowing down in immigration due to limited economic growth, he claimed. Mascaró, who was a contributor at the Majorcan Social Forum being held in Palma to discuss the influence of globalisation on local issues, confirmed that an economic bubble has been created in Spain, underpinned by international property investment and by European Union structural funding. The economist specified that recent studies reveal that nearly 16 percent of the Balearic population could prove vulnerable in this regard.
Problems of family destabilisation, social rejection, alcoholism and drug addiction may claim victims. “Groups of people entering the labour market are vulnerable”, said Mascaró. Social exclusion could be on the increase in the future, he continued and stressed that the growth of immigrant workers on the labour market promotes job insecurity and highlights the fragility of social policy. He gave wholehearted support to organised forums which put forward proposals aimed at overcoming rifts in society and at “cutting through the tissue of lies and hypocrisy” created by a clash of interests. Pere Salvá, head of Human Geography at the Balearic University, reported that the influx of immigrants has raised the population of the Balearics to one million people, of which 18 percent earn less than 300 euros a month and are at risk from social exclusion. He added that nearly half of the immigrants who work on the Islands are from South America and of this group, 50 percent are socially ostracised.
Francisco Checa, Doctor of Anthropology at the University of Almería, supported the concept of dialogue between different cultures and communities but “on equal terms” so that such attempts at reconciliation would not be prejudiced by social and economic imbalance. Checa pointed out that Spain would still be existing at an economic level similar to that of the 1970s if it had not been for the aid of immigrant labour. He lamented the fact that host countries do not take into account the needs and ambitions of those who wish to adopt them as a new home.

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