Words, words, words are all around us. They spell out annual problems which are presented each year as brand new issues. ‘They’ are the Town Hall, Hotels Association and all concerned with the making of the rules. Let’s look at the decision makers in our Town Hall first. They have a huge tourism brief which is at the heart of all we do in Soller. Let’s not kid ourselves that Soller would be what it is today without tourism.
We have a reasonable bus service, a regular tram (expensive for a visitor) from Town to Port and a train which doesn’t want to see itself as public transport but as a tourist attraction. This all means that visitors largely arrive by driving their own car and parking it somewhere. Parking is like the waves which come in and out on the shore. With every ‘wave in’ we think about parking, with every ‘wave out’ we forget about parking. So it goes on until this time of the year, when someone wakes up and realise that the parking fairy didn’t solve the problems after all.
This week a Councillor, for the fourth year running explained that small plots of land were going to be requisitioned for parking purposes. This involves, cost, negotiation and a re- drawing of the Town plan. So all this means new parking opportunities will be unlikely for the 2022 season. Thus it was last year and the year before that. Sorry if it’s a bit obvious but could this work not have been started months ago?
The hospitality industry
Let’s talk about our friends at the local Hotel Association now. They lament, in the local paper this week, how hard it is to get staff and this year is worse than ever. So many workers have left Majorca, returned ‘home’ and found conditions there, much improved. They have no need to come back to Mallorca, the wages are better at home.
The established teams of the hospitality industry here are still in place but their staff for the season all need recruiting. Split shifts and late nights mean they need local accommodation. The salary ‘Convenio’ for their work does not pay them enough to get a Soller rental. Some establishments offer staff accommodation but most don’t.
This discussion plays out every year, but this year the pool of workers on the island is much less. Plus the UK young people can’t come here easily for their season in the sun. The Brexit effect hasn’t gone away while we have been dealing with Covid. It is to be hoped that in due course some changes will allow seasonal workers from the UK again but it isn’t going to help this year.
So what to do about it is the question?
Money is one answer in the shape of bonuses and profit sharing on top of the basic wage ‘Convenio’. Terms and conditions are going to be just as important as salary. Managers and owners with a poor staffing reputations will see staff not joining them, because this year they have choice.
This is not just a Soller Valley problem and we are told that the Government has its eye firmly on this one. Will we see a team of invited migration to fill these roles? It has happened here before and we wait to see if this is a solution ready to be rolled out. The one big problem with this is that employers are calling out for English speaking staff. Some of them are even running off season English lessons for their staff. Invited migration from most countries who have plenty willing to leave, will not necessarily give them English in their skill set.
My point, and where I started from, is that none of these issues are new and here we are again crying about the problem. Solid work, being done year round, behind the scenes, could have prevented these items ever being news as we start 2022.
There is an element of seasonality on this island which has a bearing on workload and decision making. This really needs to be shed by all companies and bureaucracy here. It is all such a serious waste of precious time.
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