The CCOO and UGT unions have warned that tourism-sector employment will not match the increase in the number of tourists to Spain in a year expected to be the best tourist year on record.

In presenting proposals for a quality tourism industry directed at parties fighting the forthcoming general election, the unions - talking to the press in Madrid - said that employment in hotels is only expected to have risen by 2.16% compared with 2014, something that is below other tourism-sector indicators. They have, therefore, denounced employment that is “insecure, temporary, part-time and low pay.”

José María Martínez, the secretary-general of the CCOO services’ federation, highlighted the fact that jobs are “not stable,” noting that 26% of indefinite employment contracts are part-time and practically a half of new contracts are also part-time. Between 80 and 90% of those between the ages of 16 and 19 have casual employment, while for the 20-24 year olds this casual employment goes down by 60%.

Miguel Angel Cilleros, head of transport and consumer services at UGT, indicated that job insecurity has been exacerbated by the proliferation of multi-service outsourced companies, with the wage for hotel maids having gone down 35%.

The unions also noted that there are some 25 different agreements across the country’s regions and provinces that are not being negotiated and which affect more than 300,000 workers. With regard to the Imserso programme of social tourism (for Spanish pensioners), they hoped that there isn’t a repeat of the situation this year, which has meant the programme has been delayed. For each euro of public money invested in Imserso, 1.5 euros are generated, meaning a saving on unemployment benefits.

Both unions attacked the bad practices that are committed in the tourism sector, such as the phenomenon of the “false self-employed,” by which it is the worker who has to make payment to social security. Another negative factor is the use of students in order to make salary savings.

The proposals made by the unions include investment in new infrastructure and new technologies, public-private collaboration, preservation of cultural patrimony, regulation of the “illegal offer,” increased number of work and tourism inspections, diversification in order to overcome seasonality and taking greater advantage of the Parador state-run hotels.

They identified one of the greatest challenges for Spain’s tourism as being seasonality, and on this they advocate diversification through tourist market segmentation and new products as well as social tourism in the low season. They also pointed to the need for the standardisation of regulations in all Spain’s regions with regard to what tourism powers are transferred in order to combat the underground economy and reinforce inspections with more resources and personnel so that there is greater quality of employment and tourism product.