Problem on Spanish holiday islands: full hotels, no staff

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hotel staff

In the Canary Islands, some hotels offer €500 to employees who refer friends to work. Recruitment campaigns abroad are organised in the Balearic Islands and in some cases hotel rooms are used as temporary housing.

Despite record business results, the tourism sector in both the Balearic and Canary Islands is finding it virtually impossible to find staff. It has never been so busy and reservations for the coming high season indicate that this will not change immediately. Only: who is going to provide all the services to all those tourists? And the problem seems to be as big in the Balearic Islands, with seasonal tourism, as in the Canary Islands, where tourists come all year round.

A few weeks ago, a hotel in Lanzarote decided to give €500 to employees who found a friend to come and work there for at least six months. Trade unions criticised this proposal. They considered the amount no more than a handout. Moreover, they saw it as a way to avoid raising wages for employees.

The main problem for staff on all Spanish holiday islands is that it is virtually impossible for them to find accommodation. Some hotels in the Balearic Islands have therefore already reserved rooms for employees. Applicants are now increasingly making this demand at hotels in the Canary Islands. However, living at work does not seem to be the best solution.

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Criticism of employers

Esther González, general secretary of the CCOO trade union in Gran Canaria, believes that many employers wrongly point to the ‘laziness’ of employees as the main reason for the difficulties in finding staff. “They say people would rather get benefits than work. That is not true. People want to work, but with dignity and without being exploited,” she explains.

The great wave of layoffs

There are rumors that there is increasing talk of ‘the great wave of dismissals’ on the Spanish islands. Employees are becoming increasingly alienated from their responsibilities and employment relationships. For staff in the tourism sector it is almost impossible to combine family life with work due to inflexible working hours. Wages are so low that they sometimes cannot even afford a house.

Call for “orderly migration” for work

It is therefore mainly the housing problem that stands in the way of staff recruitment for the high season in the Balearic Islands. Hotel chain Blau Hotels has already set up campaigns in collaboration with hotel schools to recruit employees in Portugal, the Netherlands and Belgium. “The hotel promises the customer a service and amenities that are truly delivered by people, not rooms. And people cannot live where they work,” regrets Joan Pla of Blau Hotels. “It is a structural problem.” Pla therefore calls for government intervention to effectively fill these jobs through orderly migration.

Also read: Many Spanish tennants pay rent that is above a reasonable limit

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