Artisans who sell at the Hort del Rei market in Palma yesterday staged a protest against illegal selling and against the town hall's lack of regulation for tackling this. The president of the artisans guild, María Oliver Munar, accused the town hall of "fostering the underground economy".
She explained that the mayor, Antoni Noguera, had said to her that it shouldn't be forgotten that the town hall administration is one of left-wing parties. "That's fine by me, but to my knowledge he has not cut his salary and given half of it to these people. They should not, therefore, be allowed to reduce our sales." She reminded Noguera that artisans have to support families, pay charges and taxes and insurance.
The guild has noted that there are ever more illegal vendors. There can be up to 200 a day. The protest featured banners in different languages - the market is in a key tourist area - which said "we are a legal market", "respect for the artisans who pay taxes".
The artisans guild, which comes under the umbrella of the Pimem association for small to medium-sized businesses, calculates that its members' revenue has slumped by around 50% in the past year. This has been because of the increasing number of illegal traders, many of whom, notes Oliver, only sell during the season and then don't work for the rest of the year. Majorcans, on the other hand, can't afford to do this.
Compared with the number of illegal sellers, there are just 21 artisans. They have their stalls on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. All the other vendors in the area are illegal. Oliver claims that the illegal sellers have a "verbal agreement" from the town hall to allow them to set up tables equivalent to the size of the legitimate vendors. How can tourists, she asks, know that they are illegal, in which case why are posters placed in hotels, requesting visitors not to buy from them.
Oliver adds that the police have told the artisans that "they can't do anything". There are times when the police move the illegal sellers on, only for them to return when the police leave.
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