Today’s protest by angry employees outside the Bimbo factory. | Miquel A. Cañellas

Employess staged a mass protest today over the decision last week by Bimbo, the bread company, to close its factory in Palma, which came as another blow to the industrial fabric of the Balearic Islands. This sector is going backwards rather than forwards, which is why the minister for industry, Iago Negueruela, announced last week that there would be a plan to try and revive it.

The industrial sector represents 7.44% of Balearic GDP, a percentage that has been declining and which, for some time now, has brought complaints from unions, concerned at the loss of businesses and also jobs.

In the case of Bimbo, which intends to maintain a logistics centre, its business has stalled over the past four years and had, prior to these, suffered a sharp fall. The decision to close the factory comes a year after the Coca-Cola bottling plant was closed, the company saying that it was cheaper to import from the mainland, an argument that Bimbo is also making.

Of other sectors, leatherwear and shoes, which used to be one of the main industries, has also been in decline because of relocation. The jewellery business, especially that in Minorca, is trying hard to resist a similar loss. 

In the tourism and construction sectors, effects are generally felt only in the short term, but this is not the case with industrial activity. “Any change is difficult,” observed Negueruela, who will be happy, for now, with minimal growth. “For this, it is necessary that there is an industrial policy, something which the previous government did not have, despite the decline in the sector.”

The minister and the director-general for industry, Tomeu Morro, have been holding talks with industrial sectors in order to develop the plan. Businesses have been saying that they are not looking for grants but for governmental and institutional support in other ways.

The nautical industry is one of the main industries that the government wants to give a boost to, given that market demand has been increasing.