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IN the next round of collective bargaining negotiations, which started yesterday, the shop workers unions will be asking for two days off a week and “substantial” increases in pay for employees. The object of the two days off is to allow employees to balance their working and family lives.
The Associations of Pimeco (Small and Medium Sized Businesses) and Afedeco (Shopkeepers) said they will listen to all claims and grievances but added that small businesses “have limits” and these claims could alter the benefits of a good summer season for businesses in the tourist industry. Representatives of both parties gave journalists a very superficial view of their stances after the formal opening of the negotiations, which are considered the second most important collective bargaining negotiations on the Island after those of the hotel industry, and which affect 50'000 to 56'000 employees. The secretary general for the CCOO's (Workers Commission) Federation of Hostelry and Commerce, Angeles Sanchez, said that their aim is to negotiate two consecutive days off a week for employees. They are awaiting the formation of a union negotiating team which will be formed by the CCOO, the UGT (General Workers Trade Union) and another of the unions in the sector. Sanchez said that the current agreement, which expires on March 31, specifies one and a half days, which in many cases is reduced, in practice, to one day given the difficulties of taking a half day, which in principle should be Saturday afternoon or Monday morning. Sanchez added that another of the proposals put forward by the CCOO is the possibility of working a continuous day.
He considers that the benefits for businesses during a good high season will have to result in many benefits for employees.
To rearrange the day to make the aim of the negotiations “effective” is also fundamental for the UGT's Commercial Federation, according to their head, Antonio Copete. He also cited a “substantial” increase in wages as another of their important demands, as this will allow employees to have a reasonable standard of living. Another of the demands will be for staff stability, said Copete, who wants workers to have permanent contracts.