Working in the heat in Palma. | Teresa Ayuga


A recent study by the research division at insurance and financial services company Allianz estimated a loss of one per cent of GDP from the start of May to early August because of the number of particularly hot days. Allianz reckoned that every day with temperatures above 32 degrees could be equated to a day of strike.

Despite the high temperatures for much of July and August, Mallorca experienced only two short heat waves (both in July). But as much as the incidence of heat waves is the fact that summers are getting hotter and that the greater heat can impact productivity negatively.

The CCOO union and the FCC group signed an agreement for this summer to try and avoid the harmful effects of temperatures, especially on work outdoors. This agreement includes measures to minimise the risk of thermal stress or heat stroke: increased breaks, mandatory provision of water to workers, appropriate clothing, sun cream, etc. The union has been opening its headquarters in Palma, Ibiza and Mahon so that outdoor workers can go in, take a rest and cool down.

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The International Labour Organization (ILO) highlights agriculture and construction as the two sectors most affected by the rise in temperatures. The ILO calculates that these sectors will, by 2030, contribute 80% of total working hours lost due to thermal stress. It is therefore urging governments, employers and workers to adapt. There need to be appropriate policies and investments in technology but crucially "changes in attitude", which will have to be reflected in collective bargaining agreements.

Pau A. Monserrat, professor of financial economics at the University of the Balearic Islands, says that the increase in temperatures will lead to an increase in occupational risks. There will therefore be an "obligation to adapt".

He argues that a significant drop in GDP will occur in the long term if businesses don't adapt. Investment in air-conditioning technologies, outdoor equipment, and teleworking in order to avoid commuting are future strategies to minimise the effects of warming on workers' health and productivity.