OVER a thousand people took to the streets of Palma yesterday to defend their jobs and the right to work.
The May Day march was led by Union leaders calling for urgent and more decisive action from central and regional governments to confront the current economic crisis amidst controversial threats of a general strike unless conditions begin to improve.
However, the UGT General Workers Union Secretary in the Balearics, Lorenzo Bravo believed that although Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was holding out against employment reform and was not giving in to the pressures which he is under from banks, professional bodies and his own party, a general strike should, for the moment, be put on the back burner.
Nevertheless, Bravo warned, the moment that Zapatero buckles under that pressure, a lightning general strike in the Balearics would have unanimous support.
Bravo said that although his union might not be marching in support of a general strike, his members would continue to demonstrate to defend people's rights to work and to have fair pay and working conditions.
Katiana Vicens, the new secretary general of the CCOO Workers Commission said yesterday: It's all very well what Central Government are saying ... that they won't allow support for working people and the social services to deteriorate, that there will be no turning back ... but we've heard enough talk, we now want to see some action.
If the government refuses to take any action, then the unions will have no option but to step in and do something, she warned. Meanwhile though, let's see how things go said Vicens who backs the idea of union action later this year, if regional government measures to halt unemployment fail to take effect.
What all the Balearic union representatives agreed on yesterday was that it is the innocent working class people who are suffering the most and that it is time that authorities and financial organisations start to take things seriously. All representatives said yesterday that with 110'000 unemployed in the Balearics, some forceful action needs to be taken to tackle the crisis and establish a new financial model as soon as possible to prevent greed and protect ordinary people from suffering the same setbacks again.
If the financial system doesn't change, warned the new UGT secretary, we're going to have one crisis after another. The whole nature of production is going to have to change, he claimed ... less growth, more eco-friendly, more sustainable and a fairer sharing out of wealth, without demonising immigrants.
Yesterday's demonstrations also had backing from various political parties such as the United Left, the independent Entesa party and Majorcan Socialist coalition PME-EN represented in person by Gabriel Vicens, Balearic government Transport Minister.
Palma's Mayor, Aina Calvo turned up in person to support the CCOO and UGT march.
She called for people to have hope in order to emerge from the economic crisis.