Seasonal workers have been badly affected by the crisis. | Archive


Seasonal workers in the tourism sector cannot find work, while there are thousands on the mainland who have not been able to come to Majorca as they normally would. They will have to hope that next year they will be able to, and they include chambermaids, coach drivers, chefs, waiters and waitresses.

Antoni Riera is the director of the public-private Fundació Impulsa, the organisation dedicated to increasing competitiveness in the Balearics. He says that unemployment levels are much higher than at times of previous crisis. "We've never experienced anything like this." High season should now be under way, but there are some 70,000 unemployed and around 120,000 employees under ERTE terms.

A report from 2018 gives an indication as to how many seasonal workers from the mainland are affected. This report on mobility of the labour market points to 8,290 people having come to the Balearics for seasonal employment in the summer. This number includes people who work in the public sector as well as in the likes of hotels and restaurants.

Hotel improvements and modernisation in recent years have raised the star ratings of establishments but have also exposed a shortage of qualified personnel in the Balearics to meet requirements. Workers from the mainland and elsewhere have covered the demand. In one specific sector, nautical, it has long been the case that there is a reliance on foreign employees.

Because there aren't the numbers of tourists this summer, there is far less need for workers to be hired. Where there are jobs, the priorities are employees under ERTE and those with "fijo discontinuo" contracts. Temporary and seasonal workers are at the back of the queue. As Riera notes, these classes of worker are going to suffer "a huge loss of income".

Chambermaids, popularly known as the "kellys", have been badly affected by the situation. Whether from the mainland or island resident, there are many with fijo discontinuo contracts who haven't been called back to work. One kelly, Ana María Vera, is from Seville. She is still in Seville, awaiting the call from her hotel. The director of this hotel says that the season will be three months long, if there is a season.

A consequence of the lack of temporary workers is that there is a large stock of apartments available to rent, a situation "unthinkable" in recent years, according to the president of the College of Estate Agents, Natalia Bueno. She points to there being apartments in Puerto Alcudia which are not occupied. Finding anywhere to rent in Alcudia has been extremely difficult for several summers, but not this summer.

Bueno explains that landlords are trying to compensate by offering their apartments for one or two months rent to Majorcans. "But the demand doesn't meet the supply." And people aren't looking to rent for such short periods. Owners are therefore "lowering prices for the whole year, but if there aren't jobs in the area, this is difficult". In Alcudia, as an example, monthly rents have gone down twenty per cent, and Alcudia is not alone. The availability of apartments is reflected by the fact that at the end of last week there were 4,419 adverts for rented accommodation on the property website Idealista.