Palma.—Balearic political parties are having their election campaigns overshadowed by industrial action in the health service and nation wide daily protests by the pro-democracy movement (see page 5) as the electorate clearly shows their unhappiness with the current situation in Spain.

Yesterday, Balearic ambulance crews mounted their first day of industrial action over poor pay conditions.
Both sides of the dispute were locked in talks until 4am yesterday morning in a bid to try and break the deadlock but, negotiations broke down again and the strike action went ahead with “indefinite” industrial action threatened from May 30 with crews expected to cease operating for eight hours a day during the strike.

Yesterday morning passed off relatively smoothly with patients being transferred to and from hospitals, but it was the afternoon shift which caused the most complications with many patients needed urgent and regular treatment unable to either get to or from hospital.

The stalling point in the negotiations is that wages are not index linked and have not increased with inflation and the rise in the cost of living while bosses want to freeze pay for the next two years.

But, while the ambulance services claim to have been hit by the austerity measures and the cuts, so too does the health service in general.
Yesterday a near 100-strong protest convoy of vehicles brought the centre of Palma to a near standstill and health service workers from all sectors and hospitals mounted a mobile protest through the streets of Palma.

The convoy set off from Son Llatzer Hospital at 9am and, after touring the city centre, parked up in front of the Ministry for Health and Consumer affairs in the Plaza España to voice their anger. According to the Secretary General of the Saste medical union, Jorge Tera, medical staff are feeling the pinch of the cuts and are having to work under immense stress due to the lack of staff. “The health service is now worse than it was four years ago,” Tera said in a statement.
According to the Secretary General, the budget has been slashed by 100 million euros over the past year and that at least 30 members of staff have been laid off “and the health service and the staff are beginning to pay the price of the cuts with their levels of professionalism being tested to the limit at the cost to the patient,” he added.