HOTELIERS and union representatives will start wage talks on Monday morning, just days after it was announced that many hotels will not open for Easter, which is early this year.
The wage talks are the most important on the island, and the toughest, affecting some 60'000 workers.
But although both sides will meet for the first time on Monday, one of the lawyers for the Majorcan Hoteliers Federation, Carlos Sedano, said that no advances in the analysis of the various proposals can be expected until April. He added that as far as he knew, the unions would not present their demands until a later date, something which is to be expected he explained, claiming that the unions always use up all the available time limits if it looks as though negotiations are going to be arduous.
The unions will base their claims on wage increases and improvements in job security, as they say that the jobs of many workers are in a precarious situation.
The hostelry agreement covers all the sub-sectors of tourism, including the complementary offer (bars, restaurants and cafes).
The Balearics have more than 1'000 hotels (some 350'000 beds), the biggest offer of tourist accommodation in Spain, as well as some 5'000 bars and restaurants.
Most of the contracts in the sector are in a category described as fijo-discontinuo, because of the seasonal nature of the work and are generally for six months, the same workers being called back each season.
Normally, Easter marks the start of the season, but hoteliers are worried about advance bookings for April and many will delay opening until May.
The Spanish Federation of Tourist Hotels and Apartments said that bookings for Easter in the Balearics are still an unknown factor, but even though the number of tourists turns out to be the same or slightly lower than last Easter, which fell in April, there are hoteliers who will not take the risk of opening because the dates (March 24 to 28) do not favour optimism. And for seven days, they are not prepared to risk the balance sheet for April, because all the indications are that bookings are much lower than last year and they will have to bear all the running costs. A spokesman for the federation said that this would not be anything new, as in the past, Easter has fallen in March and bookings for April have been very low.
A spokesman said that occupancy levels at Easter will be similar to last year, which is very positive, but there are huge gaps in bookings in April, something which is not happening in May, when occupancy is expected to be higher than last year.
Last Easter, about 70 per cent of the hotels in Majorca opened, and were on average 70 per cent full thanks mainly to offers aimed at Majorcans.