Spanish hotel reservation application to display staff working conditions | Spain
Tourists booking a hotel in Spain will soon be able to choose not only a hotel with the best views or the largest swimming pool, but also a hotel where the staff enjoys decent working conditions.
After trying unsuccessfully to persuade platforms like Booking.com and TripAdvisor to include working conditions in their hotel reviews, Las Kellys, the tireless organization of Spanish maids, is setting up its own booking platform.
Last week, its crowdfunding campaign surpassed the € 60,000 minimum required to set up the website and mobile app and is on track to meet the maximum target of € 90,000.
“We want to usher in a new era of tourism where the working conditions of people and their humanity are above economic interests,” said Las Kellys spokeswoman Vania Arana.
To meet Las Kellys criteria, hotels must adhere to the National Agreement on Wages and Terms, comply with health and safety regulations, have an equal pay policy, employ vulnerable people, and employ housekeeping staff.
Las Kellys – the name is a game on weary limpian (women who clean) – started as a WhatsApp group in 2014. Members formed an association in 2016 and then, frustrated by the indifference of the union that was supposed to represent its interests, the Barcelona group founded a union, Sindicato Las Kellys Catalonia.
There are groups in the big cities of Spain as well as in the Balearic and Canary Islands and seaside resorts such as Benidorm.
The movement was born in response to the growing trend of hotels, large chains in particular, to outsource their workers to agencies. One of Las Kellys’ complaints is that these agencies employ them as cleaners, who under national wage agreements are paid less than maids.
Until fairly recently, hotels employed their maids as staff, and as such they were protected by an agreement that guaranteed them a monthly salary of € 1,200 (£ 1,025) for a 40-hour week, as well as sickness and maternity benefits.
While some outsourced contracts may appear to offer the same pay and terms, there’s a catch: they also specify how many pieces are to be completed in a six-hour shift, on average between 25 and 30, which doesn’t is not humanly possible.
As a result, workers worked unpaid overtime to meet their quota, reducing their hourly rate to € 3 or € 4, below the minimum wage. If they do not reach their quota, they are made redundant.
The pandemic, which has forced the closure of hotels, has highlighted the precarious working conditions of these women. In many cases, the agencies responsible for the contract labor did not bother to apply for the leave program and simply shut down the company, Arana said.
“About 16,000 colleagues who had contracts to work the summer months were left dry and unable to claim anything,” she said.
Women were forced to survive thanks to food banks and charity from community groups and the church. The government only offered a one-time payment of € 1,000, and that only if they earned less than € 400 per month.
“I couldn’t ask for time off because my husband was getting it, 900 € per month, and I say that only because I am one of the lucky ones,” Arana said.
Now that the hotels have reopened, the situation is even worse, she says.
“A woman came to see us because an agency was paying her € 39 more than eight hours a day. She told them, “I’m going to report you to the Kellys,” and as soon as we wrote to them, they fired her.
Another trick is to employ people for a two-week trial period and then get rid of them when the trial period ends, she said.
Arana points out that although they have Spanish members, the majority are immigrants from Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa.
“There are a lot of African women,” she says. “Hotels love them because they often speak English. They prefer single mothers because they are easier to exploit.
While technicians prepare the app and website for the New Year, Las Kellys will contact hotels to see if they meet their criteria in order to offer reservations through the app.
“I would say to people, if you are looking for a hotel, look for one where there are humane working conditions and think about exploitation,” says Arana. “The only thing outsourcing has given us is illness, a huge workload and, ultimately, social and economic poverty. “