UNIONS and management organisations in the Balearic commercial sector, endorsed a collective agreement yesterday which will govern industrial relations over the next three years. A rise of 18 percent has been agreed in the rates of pay for hours worked on Sundays and public holidays. An accord has also been arrived at over pension arrangements. According to workers' representatives, the settlement that unions and management organisations reached yesterday, has only been possible because of the threat of strikes that had originally been planned for 29 September and 6 October. Antonio Copete, a General Workers Union representative who took part in the negotiations, spoke highly of final agreement due to its inclusion of an 18 percent rise in hourly rates of pay for Sundays and public holidays which had not previously been recognised by the Balearic government's working calendar. Copete pointed to the importance of this clause when the time comes in 2005 to free trading hours from restrictions. It is envisaged that commercial businesses will be entitled to open all public holidays of the year.
The representative confirmed the fact that the workers have won the right to full salary if they are off sick on a long-term basis.
Copote accused the Balearic government's Popular Party of passivity during the negotiations, for not having adopted any sanctions against the management organisations when they failed to turn up at a meeting of a crucial Balearic Arbitration Tribunal (TAMIB), held to address the issue. Demetrio Peña, the president of a small and medium sized business federation (Pimeco), and Pau Bellinfante of Afedeco, were happy with clauses in the agreement that had dealt with workers pension rights. The collective agreement also took into account the cost of living index and included annual wage rises over the next three years to compensate. Another union representative, Rafael Borrás, expressed his absolute satisfaction with the agreement between both parties but signalled that there still needed to be negotiations during the coming months on how to combat sexual harassment at work, improve workers training programmes and take measures to ensure health and safety in the workplace. The agreement stipulates that all these new measures should come into force as of 1 April 2004 because workers will receive backpay from that date. Borrás and Peña confirmed that unions and management organisations also announced a joint approach to the way in which trading hours will be freed from restriction as of 2005.