Tourists on the Costa del Sol this summer could meet with empty reception desks and closed restaurants as strike action moves closer. Trade unions in the hotel and hospitality sector announced on Thursday that they will call for four periods of industrial action during July, August and September.
The move comes in response to Tuesday's breakdown in the ongoing negotiations with employers over new working conditions. Union representatives and bosses were meeting for the eleventh time to sign off on a collective bargaining deal as the last one expired in December, but the meeting broke up without an agreement. Last month workers staged a four- stage march along the Costa in support of improved conditions.
Representatives of employers have offered an eight per cent salary increase over four years, whereas unions are asking for 16 per cent. The Mahos association, representing restaurants, called this demand “ridiculous”, saying that businesses outside the busiest areas couldn't afford it.
Another key disagreement centres on hotels, where the local hoteliers association, Aehcos, wants to link salary increases to an improvement in absenteeism and changes in the way days off are allocated. Unions want staff who work for outside contractors to be included in the terms of the new deal. The hoteliers say this has nothing to do with the collective agreement and it is up to each company to negotiate separately.
Speaking for the unions, Sergio de Oses of UGT said that it was “a pity that what could be the best summer ever for tourism could be remembered as the worst”. Luis Callejón, of Aehcos, said the strike would be a mistake as the workers “have the best agreement in Spain”, and it would be hard to explain “to working families that need the income, especially as they are defending workers who are part of other agreements”.
The actual dates and scope of the industrial action haven't been announced but unions said they will last three to four days each and be at the end of July, start and middle of August and start of September.
Unions will meet on 15 June to make their decision unless negotiations resume first.