by Staff Reporter
THE UGT trade union claims that about ten hotels belonging to chains such as Hotetur, Marina Balear and Sol Melia in the Bay of Palma (between Andratx and Llucmajor will close for the winter, although in the past they have remained open for the 12 months of the year.

Antonio Copete, secretary general of the union's hotel chapter, said that this underlined the crisis in the sector.
He declined to name the hotels, alleging that he did not have official figures, but said that the shortening of the season is affecting nearly all the hotel chains on the island, particularly in the Bay of Palma area.

He said that every year since 2002, between five and seven hotels have reduced the months they are open, affecting an average of 50 workers per hotel. “We are ending up with the Bay of Palma putting the lights out in winter, and we cannot accept this because no economic activity is possible with only six months of work,” he warned.

He added that seasonal and all year round work, and the change of use for obsolete hotels are the two main themes which the union will bring up at the next meeting of the Social Dialogue Committee, which sits management, unions and government around the table to discuss problems and policies.

Copete said that the UGT and the other major union, the CC.OO, had called a joint meeting of members for September 10 to propose a major demonstration in the last week in September.

This is part of the two unions' campaign to raise public and governmental awareness to the problems affecting the tourist sector.
Copete was speaking after a meeting with former Balearic leader, Francesc Antich, who is now secretary general of the Balearic Socialist Party, to discuss the union's chief concerns in tourism matters.

Antich, for his part, called on the government to head a process to find solutions to the questions of change of use of hotels and lengthening the season “to prevent the demos.” He also expressed concern about how the question of change of use was being handled, saying it must be done “very carefully.” He said that in his opinion it was “absurd to mix residential and touristic uses on the front line” and it was necessary to “eliminate buildings rather than constructing more” in many resort areas.

The union wants the change of use to be inspected case by case and under the microscope, with each stage supervised by committees. It also proposes fiscal incentives for hotels to stay open longer.