By Tim Fanning

ABOUT 6'000 people gathered in Palma yesterday to mark International Workers' Day.
About 5'000 members of the two principal trades unions, the UGT and the CCOO, as well as 500 members of the USO and 500 members of smaller unions gathered in the Plaza España yesterday morning before marching through the city.

It was the first time for the two main unions to hold a joint demonstration in two years.
Under the banner, “Time for equality, salaries and dignified housing”, members of the unions called on the Government to pursue policies giving workers greater protection at a difficult time for the economy.

The Secretary General of the CCOO in the Balearics, José Benedicto, said that the union's principal demands this year were “equality, dignified salaries and the right to housing”. He said that this was “an important moment for the workers of the Balearics”, when a number of collective deals were being negotiated in the islands that affect 150'000 workers in total.

He added that the union members would not give in to employer blackmail at a moment of crisis because we have “to maintain the spending power of the workers”.

Benedicto said that “the process of delocalising companies had to be avoided” and made special mention of the current situation in Spanair.
The unions are demanding that no jobs be lost at the airline's Palma base in the context of the ongoing search for a new owner.
The Secretary General of the other main union, Lorenzo Bravo, expressed his repulsion at yesterday's three ETA attacks “in places that affect workers such as the Institute of Workers Health, a professional training centre and agencies of the Ministry for Employment.” He called on all those involved in the violence to stop and go down the path of democracy and dialogue.
Bravo also called on the Government to introduce measures to tackle “corruption and speculation”.
David Díaz, the Secretary General of the USO, demanded a fairer distribution of “the wealth generated over the last 10 years”, to permit workers to face up to the changes in the economic situation occasioned by the fall in consumption and the slowdown in the construction industry.

The USO leader also recalled that 12 workers had died in 2007 and a further 195 had suffered serious injury. He also pointed to the four deaths and two serious injuries that had occurred in the first three months of this year in the workplace. Diaz accused the Balearic Government of discriminating against smaller unions such as the USO, CGT and STEI and demanded more social dialogue with the executive.

Among those representatives of the public administrations present at yesterday's rally were the President of the Majorcan Council, Francina Armengol, the Minister for Planning and Transport, Gabriel Vicens and Palma Mayor Aina Calvo.