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ROOM SERVICE Hoteliers Clean Up At Chambermaid´s Expense

Wednesday October 18, 2017

ROOM SERVICE Hoteliers Clean Up At Chambermaid´s Expense

Lanzarote´s hotel sector is booming - tourist demand has never been higher. But wages for the people who are cleaning your hotel room continue to fall - dropping by almost half from €1200 per month since 2012 according to research conducted by the BBC. With some chambermaids in the Canaries pocketing little more than € 1.25 per room - and that´s before taxes and deductions.

A sharp drop in pay is the key factor in the rise of the Las Kellys´ movement. A nationwide association of Spanish chambermaids effectively acting as a quasi-union to combat growing exploitation within the hospitality sector, fomented by legislation which permitted the outsourcing of hotel cleaning work to private contractors five years ago. A move which has predictably resulted in the deterioration of pay and conditions for this largely female workforce, who account for around 30% of a typical hotel´s staff.

Until 2012 this sector was regulated nationally and collective bargaining ensured that all full-time hotel cleaners enjoyed a minimum wage of €1200 per month. Since chnages to labour laws were made and outsourcing was introduced this figure has dropped to an estimated industry wide average of just €800 per month. Despite the fact that over this same period Spain and the Canary Islands have enjoyed a massive tourist boom - driven largely by the collapse of competing winter sun destinations in North Africa and the Middle East. Creating record profits for some of Spain´s biggest businesses - the hotel chains who account for a hefty chunk of the nation´s tourist industry, estimated at around 12% of total GDP.

As a result worker militancy is on the rise, most usually expressed in demos outside specific hotels and apartment complexes - actions that are becoming increasingly widespread here on Lanzarote. And this mood is not only limited to the island´s chambermaids - as workers in Lanzarote´s main tourist attractions have also only recently returned to their jobs after taking strike action. Whilst industrial action in Spain´s airports remains on the cards this autumn also.

Las Kellys' are campaigning for a fairer wage and the right to retire at 67 - reflecting the tough manual nature of their role. And many of their more active representatives are allegedly being blacklisted by certain hotel chains and establishments. So don´t forget to leave a decent tip for your chambermaid the next time you´re checking out of your hotel here in Lanzarote.

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