Meeting between government, business and union representatives on Monday. | Jaume Morey

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The Balearic government and unions are calling on employers to reincorporate workers on 'fijo discontinuo' contracts by Easter at the latest.

The Spanish government having agreed to a further month's extension to the ERTE furlough scheme (until the end of March), its counterpart in the Balearics believes that this should mark the point when all workers on this type of contract are called back to work by their employers.

Iago Negueruela, the minister for the economic model, tourism and employment, said on Monday that it was essential that ERTE should continue until end-March but that, from the first of April, it would be time to demand that fijo discontinuo staff are working. Forecasts for the tourism season, he added, are "optimal".

In all, there are some 90,000 employees in the Balearics who have this type of contract, and they work almost exclusively in seasonal tourism sectors - hotels and transport, for instance. Negueruela noted on Monday that many will in fact be back at work in March, but he stressed that others should return to work as they require a minimum of six months a year employment in order to generate benefits. In addition, their incomes will be higher than what they currently get from benefit, exceptional conditions having applied to fijo discontinuo employees under the general umbrella of ERTE and benefit assistance that has been needed because of the pandemic.

The general secretary of the UGT union, Lorenzo Navarro, said on Monday: "We demand that companies, out of responsibility and to continue with the economic reactivation, reinstate their workers. We have risen to the occasion, now it's up to the companies." José Luis García of the CCOO said that "the gates of Holy Week" would be a good time for tourism companies to reincorporate their employees.

The employers, however, aren't so sure. The vice-president of the CAEB Confederation of Balearic Business Associations, Rafael Roig, pointed to the difficulty for the entire business community to meet such a demand. "There will be some tourist areas that won't start their season at Easter."