By Humphrey Carter

TENS of thousands of pupils enjoyed a second day off school yesterday as public sector teachers continued their industrial action over pay conditions.
Over 3'000 teachers backed yesterday's strike action and an estimated 8'000 students turned up for class only to find schools operating minimum services and most classrooms empty and their teachers on strike in protest over the Education Ministry's refusal to agree to three demands for a pay increase of 200 euros per month.

Break through in the teachers' dispute could be reached today, the government will meet union bosses today to discuss the teachers' demands, however, a solution was looking unlikely last night after teachers held a mass meeting with their union representatives at a general assembly earlier in the day. Two more days of industrial action have been called for next month and teachers across the Balearics are being urged to participate in mass marches on the Balearic government headquarters in Palma on both June 5 and 11.

Spokespeople for the unions denied that teachers were deliberately looking for a showdown with the government.

Pauli Aguilo from the STEI union explained that his members merely want fair and just treatment. “The ball is firmly in the court of the Minister for Education,” Aguilo added.
Aguilo also said that the time is right for the Minister, Barbara Galmes, to return to the negotiating table “so that we can all reach a solution as quickly as possible.” However the unions made it clear yesterday that the teachers are not prepared to back down and that, if they have to, they will continue their protest for as long as it takes and could seriously disrupt the rest of this school term.

Certain Balearic government ministers are going to have a busy day today because the talks to try and break the deadlock with doctors and hospital personnel are also due to resume this morning.

IB-Salut Balearic health service staff launched a wave of rolling industrial action last month over pay and the health service's apparent failure to honour certain contractual agreements reached back in February, and the two sides remain locked in a bitter dispute which has been complicated by the lone actions of one of the five medical unions which last week accepted an offer proposed by the government and the health service.

This only served to further anger doctors and medical staff not represented by the minority union and there is growing support for a further wave of protest action and for the negotiations to be put on hold.

The hostelry sector will also be sitting down with the tourist industry tomorrow to open talks about improving working conditions and pay in the sector.

The meeting will be held at the headquarters of the Majorcan Hotel Federation in Palma and all sides were yesterday confident of an acceptable deal being reached relatively swiftly.