MAJOR government, industrial and business agencies put their differences to one side yesterday to agree on how to promote the Balearics as a competitive commercial force.

Regional president Francesc Antich; secretaries of the General Workers Union (UGT) and the Workers Commission (CCOO), Lorenzo Bravo and Josep Benedicto; and Josep Oliver, president of the Confederation of Balearic Business Associations (CAEB), signed a draft document entitled “Principles on which to base a unified drive for market competition, employment and social cohesion in the Islands.” The occasion was held in the formal setting of the government offices at Consolat de la Mar in Palma, witnessed by senior ministerial staff. Missing from the occasion was the small to medium-sized businesses association of Majorca (PIMEM) which, according to its regional counterpart (CAEB) failed to register a sufficient number of members for participation purposes. PIMEM, after 30 years of activity in the Balearic Islands expressed disappointment to which Antich replied that although their voice would be heard, they have no legal right to sign. Yesterday's approval now paves the way for constitutional moves to be made for coordinated strategy between the regional ministries of Economy, Tourism, Employment and Social Cohesion. No dates were confirmed by which plans for industrial competitivity and its associated targets were to be secured.

Antich, however, made it clear that this campaign - in part based on good will - to give a high profile to Balearic business and full employment, does in no way diminish the already-established rights of trade unions to negotiate their pay and working conditions. Secretaries of both the General Workers Union and the Workers Commission said that industrial conflict needs to be recouched in terms of furthering relations between employers and employed rather than as dividing their interests.

Josep Oliver claimed that the only way to improve chances of opening up competitivity was through dialogue. Obtaining industrial harmony would be key to the success of strategy emerging from yesterday's agreement. The concept is not a new one. It was in November 2004 that the Balearic government, social organisations and other regional institutions had first attempted to coordinate measures for a “social pact” leading to the success of industry, full employment and social cohesion. It remained unfulfilled until yesterday.


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