Palma.—With trade unionists claiming that the Balearic austerity plan will lead to the loss of thousands of jobs, especially in the health and education sectors, the Balearic President, Jose Ramon Bauza, appeared unrepentant.

He told a local television station that if he had not taken such severe steps, “someone from Madrid would have come over and done so instead and the consequences could have been even worse.” However, his words fell on deaf and very angry ears yesterday as thousands took part in the various marches which began at 11am and finished at 7pm when the UGT, the largest union, marched on the Town Hall for a rally in Plaza Cort.

Main slogan
The main slogan for the day was “work, dignity and rights” and the local government came under heavy criticism from all angles.
But the two biggest blows have been dealt to health and education, two areas the local government initially pledged to treat with maximum care.
The PSOE Socialist Party's Secretary for Health and parliamentary spokesperson, Vicenç Thomas accused the government of having lied and cheated the general public. “The government is destroying the basic rights of the people such as access to quality free health care and education on a daily basis and along with it, destroying jobs and social welfare.

He pointed out that the Minister for Health, Carmen Castro said back in February, that the government had absolutely no plans to bring parts of Son Dureta Hospital back in to operation. “The PP has committed electoral fraud” by introducing these cuts, Thomas said, adding that he would not be at all surprised if the government privatised the hospitals in Inca and Manacor. “Emergency services and casualty wards in the local hospitals are already in a state of chaos, they can not cope and now local medical centres are going to be closing at 5.30pm instead of 9pm, the PP is crushing the health service,” he added. “The PP has raised taxes, introduced severe cuts to health, education and social policies, introduced the health cent on petrol, closed two hospitals and pushed more and more people closer to losing their jobs. We have all been cheated,” he stressed.

Trade unionists shared Thomas's sentiments.
Secretary General of the CCOO Workers' Commission, Jose Luis Gardia, said that the general public has had enough “of the continual attack on their social and labour rights. “This latest wave of cuts is clearly discriminatory. We want more transparency and we want to know what the politicians are doing - what their pay cuts are and what they are doing to save money and ease the burden on the general public.” The thousands of protesters also vented their anger over austerity, job reforms and an unemployment rate topping 28 percent here in the Balearics, the third highest in Spain.

Stained “This May 1 is stained by the ridiculous austerity policies and the excessive cuts, but they will have to reckon with the people who are indignant and ready to come onto the streets when necessary,” warned one protester.

The closure of the two hospitals here in Majorca has not only angered the public here, but also the trade union leaders on the mainland.
At the culmination of the Madrid march in the Puerta del Sol, Ignacio Fernandez Toxo, secretary general of the major Workers Commissions union, decried the decision to close the hospital and expressed his solidarity with all the staff who are going to be affected by the move.

He also slammed the new labour reforms for making it easier and cheaper to lay off workers. “Nearly a million workers across Spain are in the streets saying ‘No' to this way of understanding labour relations,” the union leader said. “This is an expression of a peaceful, firm, democratic rebellion against an attack on public services, employment, and social rights,” said Candido Mendez, secretary general of the General Workers Union.

Both men went on to warn that the people are going to continue protesting on the streets until the government decides to change its policies which, they claimed, are only going to make things even worse, not better.


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