Bars and restaurants form one sector for the agreement. | Fela Saborit


The Balearic government has two dates firmly in mind as it seeks to ensure maximum consensus between hospitality industry employers and unions regarding a new collective bargaining agreement. One is May 28, the date for elections. More immediate is January 18, the first day of the Fitur tourism fair in Madrid.

In the lead-up to the elections, the government doesn't want a potential labour dispute, while it will wish to attend Fitur without this risk diverting attention away from the key messages that come under its slogan of "tourism of the future" (largely to do with its tourism circularity and sustainability law).

The current agreement, which was extended because of the pandemic, formally ends on January 31. The government's hope is to have at least a pre-agreement in place by then. If not, there is the concern that a labour dispute could arise and which drags on towards the season or even into it. Strikes affecting the tourism industry are the last thing the government wants.

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The agreement isn't just to do with pay, but it is pay that will dominate negotiations. Statements from employers and unions suggest that they are wide apart, the unions having spoken about a pay increase for this year of up to 15%. Employers have described this as "outrageous".

Despite this, there is a will among both parties to arrive at a settlement that removes the possibility of strike action. The sticking point is going to be the link to inflation. The employers may have to swallow salary increases for 2023 above December's 5.8%, the unions having consistently referred to loss of purchasing power during 2022 and when inflation was in double digits.

There is then what will be on offer beyond 2023. The employers are trusting that inflation will fall further. The unions, however, are likely to be angling for above inflation pay increases.

* The collective bargaining agreement covers hotels, bars/restaurants and nightlife. There are three sets of pay scales for hotels based on the star classification. The lowest one also applies to bars/restaurants and nightlife.