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Palma.—Wednesday's demonstrations in Palma and across Spain in protest over the new labour reforms and cuts to education appear to be just a taster of what is to come.

Students have been protesting in Valencia for over a month and in Barcelona, the demonstrations turned violent as marchers clashed with police and shops were ransacked.

Fortunately, here in Palma, the mass march passed off peacefully but tensions are rising and now there is talk of a general strike in the coming months.

Yesterday, the President of the Balearics, Jose Ramon Bauza, said that a general strike will serve to achieve nothing. “It will not help reactivate the economy, in fact, if the strikes are held over Easter, they will do more harm than good because they will disrupt the start of the tourist season,” he added. “They will also damage the region and the country's image,” Bauza added and called on all parties involved to be “responsible.” Tour operators are already aware of possible unrest over this season but are keeping their fingers crossed that mass industrial action can be avoided. Bauza said that he does not share the stance of those who took part in Wednesday's protests against the cuts. “The Prime Minister has been left with little or no choice but to cut back on public spending and things are going to get worse before they get better this year,” Bauza said. “The biggest problem we have here is that the debts we were left with when we won the election were out of proportion and for that we can only thank the Socialists. They got us into this mess but we've got to get the Balearics and Spain out of it and we will providing we work together with optimism and realism,” the President added. However, leaders of the main CCOO and UGT trade unions will decide on March 9 whether to call a general strike against labour reforms, but in the meantime, public sector workers will be back out on the streets protesting on March 11.

Stronger impact
Union leaders Javier López and José Ricardo Martínez have argued that “there is misguided” information in the press about the possibility of convening a general strike on March 29. That date has already been set by nationalist trade unions in the Basque Country, Navarra and Galicia.

But, union bosses said yesterday that if they were to convene a general strike before Easter, it would also be on March 29 so as not to divide the workers. “The strike would have much more impact and would be much stronger” if all the unions, both regional and national staged their walk-out the same day.

Union leaders stressed that their priority is to force Mariano Rajoy to open up a forum for social dialogue on the new labour reform.
Further demonstrations are already planned for March 8, to coincide with International Women's Day and parliament's expected approval of the labour reform bill, and for March 11, when the CCOO and UGT hope to repeat the success of the demonstrations of February 19.