Coach operators have agreed a two-year deal. | M

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Pay agreements recently reached apply to some 10,000 employees in the Balearics, with the highest increase having been 15.65% for the car-rental sector (2,100 employees; 250 companies). This is, it should be noted, over four years. Lower increases are for fewer years - six per cent over two years for coach operator employees (just under 2,000 workers with 21 companies); 10.5% over three years for public transport bus companies (600 workers); and eight per cent over two years for 5,500 employees in the private health sector.

The pandemic and now inflation provide the context for these pay settlements, and they will send out a signal to employers and unions who are either currently negotiating or will soon be starting negotiations for new collective bargaining agreements.

There are two sectors with larger numbers of employees - retail (20,000) and hospitality (150,000). It is the latter to which most attention will be paid, unions having already been talking about single-year increases of ten per cent. The last pay agreement, in 2017, was for 17% over four years. Extended by a year because of the pandemic, this was an increase that the hoteliers tabled and which took both unions and the Balearic government by surprise; unions had been looking for ten per cent.

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As can be seen from figures for the agreements which have been concluded so far, that 2017 increase was higher than the 15.65% for the car-rental sector and at a time when neither the pandemic nor inflation were factors.

Negotiations are not due to start until the new year, with agreements scheduled to take effect from April. Last time, there were no negotiations as such; the hoteliers pre-empted them with an offer that wasn't about to be rejected. The latest round will be a different matter.

Carlos Sedano of consultancy Sedano & Asociados, who has participated in pay negotiations for many years, says that "the pandemic has disrupted all agreements" but that employers and unions have thus far adopted a "proactive attitude" in reaching agreements against a background of economic uncertainty.