Workers with the UGT services federation at a presentation about the negotiations earlier this week. | UGT Baleares

The Majorca Hoteliers Federation and unions representing workers in the hotel sector have arrived at an agreement for a 17% wage increase over the next four years. It is the highest increase for many years, and after the announcement yesterday the employment minister, Iago Negueruela, said that it was an historic day and a very happy one.

The minister, who congratulated the negotiating teams, added that GDP figures have been good in recent years and that in the hotel sector, the "redistribution of wealth begins today".

Inma Benito, the president of the hoteliers federation, praised the "mood" shown by the unions and the government during the negotiations. The secretary of the UGT union's services federation, José García, thanked the federation for its efforts in reaching the agreement. "The most important thing is that it has been signed. There won't be any conflict during the 2018 season." Silvia Montejano of the CCOO noted the guarantees being made regarding outsourcing and special measures for hotel chambermaids.

At present, the agreement has only been signed by the Majorca federation. In Minorca its federation, Benito explained, will analyse it and probably adopt it in the coming months. Ibiza and Formentera are not affected by the agreement.

But where there is a problem is with the rest of the hospitality sector. The restaurants association and the association for nightlife entertainment have said that they cannot sign the agreement because the increase in pay is too high.

The agreement covers some 137,000 workers. The 17% increase will be staggered over the four years: 5% in 2018 and 2019, then 3.5% in 2020 and 2021.

* It is a surprise that this agreement has been reached as early as it has been. Negotiations had been expected to take place over the winter, but the departure of Inma Benito (she'll join Iberostar from 1 October) may have been a factor in bringing about an early settlement. For the government, meanwhile, the agreement will be viewed as something of a triumph for its advocacy of better pay and better conditions.