STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
UNIONS in the Balearic Islands including the General Workers Union (UGT) and the Workers Commission (CCOO), called yesterday on 60'000 civil servants and the rest of the region's population to support an all-out public sector strike this coming 8th June.

The move is a protest against austerity measures planned by Central Government to tackle the national debt.
CCOO delegate Baltasar Piñeiro and UGT Public Services Secretary Aurelio Martinez said that tomorrow, initial demonstrations have been planned at 7pm in front of Central Government offices on Majorca, Minorca and Ibiza. Similar protests will be staged across the country, they warned.

The Unions are demanding the withdrawal of the austerity measures because apart from the immediate effects of salary reductions on civil servants, the Unions believe that the cuts will eat into the well-being and security of everyone in the land.

Both Piñeiro and Martinez said that a petition had been made to Balearic President Francesc Antich that he put pressure on the Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to get the majority of money needed to shore up the economy from the better paid.

Taxes, said the unionists, should be levied on financial organisations and that inheritance tax should be increased.
The unionists said that it was unacceptable that there has been no detail provided to them of exactly what austerity measures are to be introduced and claimed that Central Government is “stumbling around”, without being specific or giving any clear explanation of what effect the cuts are going to have.

Piñeiro said that the real extent of the austerity measures will not be known until tomorrow when the Council of Ministers is expected to meet in Madrid to approve them.

The President of the Independent Civil Servants' Union (CSIF), Andreu Bou, suggested that the economic policy currently being exercised by Central Government is “completely improvised” from one moment to the next.

He pointed out that “many civil servants are not well paid” and that a drop of 5 percent in their salaries would mean a real cut in the quality of their lives.

Bou also claimed that the blame for the squandering of public money can be laid “fairly and squarely” at the door of Central Government, and more specifically on the high number of public companies, on consultants and on the expenses incurred by senior public figures.

He said that he believed there was enough money collected in Spain from people's taxes but that it was “badly managed.” Piñeiro insisted that the cuts don't just affect civil servants and pensioners, but that measures such as the suspension of status of partial retirement will threaten the quality of life of many Spaniards. “It's a policy to stop consumerism,” said Bou “and will result in a complete downward spiral,” he claimed. “If buying power is reduced, the activity of companies will be restricted and the knock-on affect of that will be further unemployment,” he said.

The Unionists are also against government plans to freeze job protection of Spanish workers for two years to allow investment by foreign companies in Spain.