FOLLOWING the announcement by Balearic President Francesc Antich that he intends to cut half the region's public companies to help slash the national deficit, the Islands main unions warned him yesterday that he is going to have to negotiate the job losses.

Aurelio Martinez, the General Workers Union (UGT) Public Services secretary, said that “the workers have to be consulted if there are going to be redundancies and if there are changes planned to already-established working conditions.” However, Martinez defended the merging of some public companies to eliminate situations where one organisaiton was doubling up on the work of another. Martinez claimed that the people who are really going to put up a fight about the cuts are the hundreds of “top level job-holders and consultants” with which the political parties have surrounded themselves.

Meanwhile, Rafael Pons, Workers Commission (CCOO) Civil Service chief said that to generate uncertainty about the future of employment amongst public companies was “akin to terrorism” deliberately designed - he claimed - to divide the working classes, and minimise their opposition to austerity measures being imposed by Central Government.

Both Pons and Martinez were speaking yesterday at a major union assembly called to assess the impact of the cuts proposed by Antich. The meeting was also a platform from which to urge public employees to join a protest march against the cuts, planned for 8th June in Palma.