THE austerity measures to reduce the country's deficit, which include pay cuts for civil servants, of which there are 60'000 in the Balearics, and freezing pensions, have already sparked widespread protests across the country with nation wide public sector strikes planned for next month
Yesterday, over 250 unionists demonstrated against the cuts outside the central government delegation to the Balearics in Palma calling for the central government delegate, Ramon Socias, to resign.
Balearic President, Francesc Antich, voluntarily appeared before parliament to outline the cuts and explain why central government has taken such drastic action, but the victims of the austerity measures are not convinced and the opposition has accused the government of having acted far too late to address the crisis which is gripping Spain and possibly about to get worse.
Yesterday, Balearic union leaders called on the whole of society to take to the streets on June 2 and not just members of the public sector.
Union chiefs warned that, this is just the first phase of cuts and more will come affecting everyone.
And they were not wrong.
Spain hopes to unveil a crucial labour reform in the next few days, and is not ruling out new economic measures to get its deficit under control, including tax hikes for the wealthy, Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez De la Vega said yesterday.
We hope (the presentation of a labour reform) takes place in the next few days, De la Vega told reporters at Spain's weekly cabinet meeting.
Asked about a possible tax hike on the wealthy, she said the government was not ruling anything out.
Those who are wealthier are in a position to contribute more ... we are evaluating the situation and, further ahead, nothing is ruled out, De La Vega said. Right-wing newspaper editorials earlier cautioned that the government might be tempted to raise taxes for the wealthy to placate the Socialist government's left-wing base and silence criticism that its 15 billion-euro austerity plan announced this week had mainly targeted social spending.
The austerity plan, which included an average 5 percent cut in civil servants' pay, has prompted unions to call a public sector strike and threaten further action.
The deputy premier also recognised the government had had to change its firm social policies in passing tougher budget deficit-cutting measures, at the cost of losing its once tight relationship with Spain's labour unions.
We call on the unions to show the responsibility that they have shown since the start of the crisis. But we now have to pass difficult and painful measures.
We radically reject this austerity plan and both unions are starting protests that could lead to a general strike very soon, Ignacio Fernandez Toxo, the general secretary of Spain's biggest union Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) told reporters.
The unions proposed a public sector strike on June 2 to protest the government's plan to cut public sector wages by an average 5 percent in 2010 and freeze wages in 2011, and cut public investment spending by 6 billion euros.
That would fall on the day before Madrid's Corpus Cristi public holiday ensuring maximum take-up by public servants in Spain's capital and leading to possible disruptions in the travel plans for many Spaniards over the long weekend.
The government's plans to halt pension increases in 2011 was a breach of a previously agreed pension pact, CCOO's Toxo said, while the leader of sister union Union General de Trabajadores (UGT) said the government's austerity plan was devastating for growth and would increase unemployment.
(The austerity measures) are a sharp blow to the chances of maintaining certain levels of consumption and will lead to delays in economic recovery, Candido Mendez said.