THE two major unions, UGT (General Workers Union) and CC.OO (Workers Commissions) threatened strike action in the hotel sector in September, unless an agreement is reached which will include measures to extend the season and guarantee workers' rights.
This was the message spelled out yesterday by spokesmen Antonio Copete and Rafael Borrás, who warned that the number of hotels which will close this winter is growing rapidly.
The two union officials said that strike action would be subject to any agreement reached by the Social Dialogue Committee which was set up to tackle the drop in the tourist sector and provide a solution for the workers. Both unions claim there are 50'000 excess beds in the Balearic hotel sector which employs between 8'000 and 10'000 people.
Copete, the UGT spokesman, criticised an agreement between the Council of Majorca, the Balearic government and the Hotel Federation, to reconvert hotels into geriatric homes or blocks of flats by introducing changes into the regional development plan, which classifies the use of land and buildings.
He claimed that the hoteliers planned to carry out the reconversion at any cost, getting rid of the workers as cheaply as possible instead of negotiating the process with the unions.
According to Copete, the government and the sector are trying to change the economic model of the islands, based on an increase in holiday homes, which does not generate wealth. At the first meeting of the Social Dialogue Committee, the hoteliers and government did not admit that there is a crisis in the sector, Copete claimed, and accused the government of not wanting to put any money into helping in the recovery.
He insisted that the hotel industry drives the economy in the Balearics, and the closing of hotels affects all the establishments around the hotels.
Borrás said that all was not well in the hotel sector, and called for agreements which would lead to an extension of the season.
He said that the unions would draw up a programme of industrial action in September, but did not enter into details.
He claimed that the hoteliers and government had started a legal, juridical and financial operation to set up a huge real estate agency which will affect not only the workers but also the social fabric of Majorca.