Costa del Sol hotel and restaurant strike draws closer as unions and bosses fail to agree

  • The dispute centres on working condition changes that hoteliers are requesting, and stoppages could take place in July, August and September

Trade unions representing workers in the hotel and restaurant sector on the Costa del Sol will consider summer strike action if bosses do not agree to their demands by next Tuesday.

Negotiators for some 85,000 employees in the hospitality sector in Malaga province have been trying to reach a new collective agreement with employers since the existing one expired last December. However at meetings this week no agreement was reached and if next week's meeting cannot resolve the dispute, stoppages will take place in July, August and September, unions say.

The dispute centres on hotel staff in particular. Unions want an increase in salaries of around 4 per cent, however Aehcos, the association of Costa del Sol hoteliers, wants any increase linked to an improvement in absenteeism as well as more flexibility from staff over when they have their days off.

Last week workers in the hospitality sector staged a four-part march along the Costa del Sol.

One union boss, Lola Villalba, said that the employers' position showed “a total lack of respect” and the regional minister for Tourism at the Junta de Andalucía has called on them to be “generous” in sharing the increased profits with workers who “had acted responsibly during the financial crisis”. “I don't think a strike would do anyone any good and nobody wants it,” he added.

Further protests are planned outside Malaga's conference centre for today (Friday) where a national hoteliers' conference is taking place in the presence of the king.

The president of Aehcos, Luis Callejón, explained why his group's negotiating position had toughened on Wednesday this week. After being “unfairly” accused of getting up from the table last Monday, he said, “he was withdrawing everything that he had personally brought to the table to move negotiations forward”.

This step backwards included, for example, withdrawing employers' support for outsourced maintenance workers to be included in the collective agreement or for assistants to be automatically promoted after three years.

“I've never seen such a difficult agreement,” said Lola Villalba.

Meanwhile representatives of bar and restaurant workers, where there is more agreement, have asked hoteliers and the unions to “act responsibly” to avoid a strike.