Labour Day march in Palma yesterday. | Miquel A. Cañellas

Unions, members of the regional government and other politicians were on the streets yesterday, taking part in the traditional Labour Day marches. Forty years after unions were legalised, the main unions - UGT and CCOO - organised marches in Palma, Mahon and Ibiza and called on the Madrid government to repeal labour reforms and to allow decent salaries and employment. Under the slogan of "there are no excuses", the unions arranged marches in 73 towns and cities across Spain.

Some 2,000 people gathered in Palma's Plaça Espanya for a march that finished in the Passeig Born. Alejandro Texías, the general secretary of the UGT in the Balearics, insisted that all workers must have a living wage and more dignified employment. Employers, he added, need to distribute benefits to their employees. "They say they care about their employees, but this is not true." It was also not true, he went on, to claim that economic crisis was over. "The politics of austerity are wrong." Labour reforms, he added, had made employment more precarious and especially so for women, immigrants and young people, the latter of whom have to leave Spain in search of a future.

José Luis García of the CCOO echoed the words of Texiás and stressed that "today and every day we will demand a fair share of the wealth generated by tourism in the Balearics". This demand, he observed, has to come from the unions because there is "little confidence" in the influence of the Balearic parliament to bring about improved distribution of corporate profits. Business associations have to "listen to the workers", and he called on Madrid to put in place an emergency plan for employment and to establish a minimum salary of 1,000 euros per month.

A principal claim in the Balearics is for a 3% increase in salaries for workers in the hotel industry, justified by profits that the hoteliers have enjoyed recently. The minister for employment, trade and industry, Iago Negueruela - one of those taking part in the Palma march - said that this Labour Day marked a claim for recovering rights and quality of employment as the only fair means of economic recovery.

Addressing the fact that some 50% of Spanish workers have salaries of one thousand euros or less per month, he observed that the figure spoke for itself. Optimistic words from the Rajoy government could not disguise the fact that salaries of such a level are "an insult to the working class and to the millions of people who don't earn enough to make ends meet".