Construction. Again one of the sectors most affected by the current situation


Christine M. Watterson
At the end of January, the number of people out of work in Menorca totalled 5,944, an increase of 43.6% on the figure twelve months previously. This percentage, however, is lower than both the Balearic and national average rises, both of which are around 47%. Industry and construction are the two sectors which have seen the sharpest rise in unemployment figures.

Recruitment figures also rose in comparison with December, by some 18% in the Balearic Islands and 32.8% in Menorca, where 342 new contracts were signed, 21% of them for an indefinite period. However, compared to this time last year the number of new contracts is down by 27%, the drop being most pronounced among the under-25's and in the construction and services sectors.

The Director General of Strategic Planning, Llorenç Pou, stated last week that, within the negative economic context, the Balearic Islands are now entering "a phase of new recruitment in which unemployment figures, although remaining high, will start to stabilise".

Loans for workers
The Balearic Government is to make up to 2,400 euros available to workers whose firms have started proceedings for an ERE (labour adjustment plan) or have called a meeting of creditors. This is to guarantee that the workers affected will have at least a minimum income whilst awaiting the court's decision. The beneficiaries of the scheme will be those workers who are not receiving any social benefits.

The aid will be considered an interest-free loan which must be repaid within three years.

Up to 500 people will be able to receive this financial aid; it is calculated that around 250 are currently in a position which would qualify them for the advance.

No dole for 3,000 workers
The Secretary General of the UGT Menorca, José Reyes, has warned that within the next few months there will be 3,000 people out of work in Menorca who will not be entitled to any unemployment or social security benefits.

He explained that, whereas workers in the hotel and catering trade used to work 180 days a year, giving them the right to claim unemployment benefit, they now only work two or three months. Many will not manage to work the minimum one year required to give them four months of benefits.

Reyes expressed his concern that workers who have received no income for a year will be turned out on to the street and have to resort to begging. He added that "the worst thing is to become unemployed as you will be left with no benefits and, in the long run, will end up poverty-stricken".

Anticrisis plan
The UGT voiced doubts that the anticrisis measures contained in the State Fund would result in the creation of new jobs believing that the projects will be carried out using existing work forces.

The union also warned that the tourist industry will be unable to absorb the large numbers of unemployed people which, it claims, will rise by a further 33% before the start of the season. The UGT predicts that, on a Balearic level, there will be 80,000 unemployed by the end of the year and that, by the end of summer, the current figure of 16,000 unemployed not entitled to any benefits will have trebled.

Bankruptcies trebled last year
The number of individuals and companies in Spain formally declaring themselves bankrupt last year rose by 197.3%, the figure of 2,902 being higher than the combined totals for 2005, 2006 and 2007.

The last quarter of 2008 saw a dramatic increase in the number of bankruptcies, 1,082 in total of which 960 were companies and 122 families.

The sectors most affected were construction, industry, estate agencies and services. The autonomous regions of Cataluña, Valencia and Andalucía accounted for 60% of the total.