Solidarity. T-shirts bearing slogans against the closure on the fence of the Kraft complex


Christine M. Watterson Maó
Although the Banca March has rejected the possibility of the Balearic Islands entering into recession this year, the effects of the economic situation in Menorca are becoming more pronounced each week.

Speaking for the bank, Francisco Verdù admitted that 2009 will be "a very hard year" and that the situation could last until early 2010. Whilst Spain technically entered into recession last Thursday, according to the National Institute of Statistics, the moderate growth experienced in the Balearic Islands over the last few years presages that the archipelago's gross domestic product will grow by 0-0.5% over the next few months, compared to drops of around 2% in other autonomous regions. Verdù predicts that the Islands' economy will be eroded less than in Spain as a whole, thanks to a combination of public investment and tourism, and maintains that the recovery will start during 2010.

The President of the Official College of Architects in the Balearic Islands, Luis Corral, has warned that the construction sector will show no signs of improvement before summer 2011, considering the financial aid provided by the State Government and Town Councils "to have arrived a little late" and although it will help to mitigate the effects of the crisis it is insufficient to drag the sector clear. He believes that the architects "will not start to see any signs of improvement until the end of 2010 while the rest of the sector will have to wait until summer 2011".

Finance and social problems
In the last three months 17% of small and medium businesses in Spain which have applied to banks for credit have been denied.

More than 280,000 firms find themselves in this situation and those that have been given credit have had to accept much higher interest rates and shorter repayment terms, as well as providing personal guarantees which were not previously required. According to the Menorcan Chamber of Commerce, more than 80% of companies have experienced problems when applying for finance.

The Chambers are asking what use the Government aid for businesses and families is if the banks are not willing to accept risks, pointing out that this was precisely the purpose behind the government's injection of capital into the banks.

In common with the rest of Spain, the courts in both Menorca and the Balearics have seen an increase in litigation, both civil and social. Delays in mortgage repayments, eviction proceedings, embargoes, non-payment of loans or bills in the civil sector, applications for labour adjustment plans and petitions for social security benefits are some of the cases waiting to be head in the Menorcan courts.

Proyecto Hombre has warned that one of the consequences of the current situation, and one that can already be seen, will be an increase in addictions to drugs, especially the cheaper ones such as alcohol.

Pro-job demonstrations
Around 80 workers at El Caserío in Maó staged a demonstration on Saturday at the main gates to the factory on the industrial estate, calling for the cheese factory to remain open. Almost one hundred T-shirts, made by the employees themselves and bearing slogans in defence of their jobs and against the closure of the factory, were hung on the fence surrounding the Kraft complex. There have been no recent developments in the negotiations with the company and employees are working normally.

Elsewhere, unions have organised a demonstration in defence of jobs which will take place in Maó on 26th February, starting at 1900 hrs. in the Esplanada and passing along Ses Moreres, Plaza Bastión, Calle de la Iglesia, Portal del Mar and Plaza Miranda.