Workers at the Majórica pearl factory and shops last night started a sit-in while the government said it would study the problem and announce decisions before the weekend, following the management's decision to suspend payments. A union spokesman said “it is time to take action, our future is at stake,” and added they wanted the company and government to fulfil the initial agreement signed on January 22. A lawyer explained that the request to suspend payments need not necessarily affect the workers or the initial agreement, as it only applies to the creditors. She called on the workers to stay calm and turn up for work. At the end of the meeting, the factory and shop workers agreed to lock themselves in the factory for the night, stage a demo in Manacor (yesterday evening) and call a strike for March 13 and 14. The Balearic government, for its part, said that it would study ways to refloat the Majórica company after learning of the suspension of payments. Leader Francesc Antich and Pere Sampol, the minister for finance, commerce and industry, said that decisions about the company's future would be taken this weekend. The government is following the situation and there is a team of auditors working out a strategy. Antich rejected union criticism to the effect that the government had neglected the situation, adding that “the government has done what it had to do.” He added that the government had told the management, verbally and in writing, that it was willing to back a request for a loan. The conditions included a viability plan. Sampol said that any decision taken would not be with the owners. “There has been a problem of lack of confidence as management has been more concerned about recovering its investment than saving the company. What the government will not do is give money without the maximum guarantees.” Eberhard Grosske, the labour minister, said that government had done everything possible to guarantee jobs and the viability of the company. He added that the viability did not depend on the government alone, but on all the parties involved. Mayor of Manacor Miquel Riera said that the suspension of payments had not been a result of government passiveness, but the shareholders themselves who have not put up the capital to refloat the company.

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