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Staff shortage is a blow to the hospitality industry in Mallorca | The problem intensifies


The Balearic Islands and especially Mallorca are experiencing an unprecedented tourism boom. The sector is booming, but at the same time the hotel industry is suffering from a serious problem: a lack of manpower.

With almost 122,000 employees in 2023, the sector set a new record and recorded an increase of almost 16% compared to the previous year. This means that one in five workers on the islands are employed in the hotel and catering sector.

The sector not only surpasses its own record set in 2018, but is also larger than other major sectors of the economy such as trade (14%), construction (9.4%) and manufacturing (6.4%). While, agriculture and fishing together only achieve a fraction of the hospitality sector’s employment rate, which stands at 0.5%.

The three most sought-after occupations in the hotel and catering sector are waiters, cleaners and kitchen assistants, which together make up 71.5% of the total workforce. The number of new recruitments varies greatly depending on the season: May sees the highest number of new recruitments with 24,600 new contracts, while December marks the lowest point with 3,442 contracts.

Forecasts for 2024 indicate that the number of jobs in the hospitality sector will continue to grow. But optimism is overshadowed by an acute staff shortage, which threatens to become particularly severe this year.

“The labour market situation is once again tense and this year will be even worse, as housing costs have continued to rise,” warns Alfonso Robledo, president of the employers’ association for the catering sector in Mallorca.

The high cost of living, especially the increase in rents, is making it less and less attractive for seasonal workers to move to the Balearic Islands.

“It has become much more difficult for people from the mainland to come here,” Mr Robledo complains. According to him, the staff shortage means there will have to be reductions in operating hours and boat cancellations.

The early date of Easter in March further aggravated the situation. “Last year we managed to keep staff until the start of summer, but this year that was not possible for many companies,” says Mr Robledo.

For this reason, the Majorca Hotel Association (FEHM) has pledged to promote local labour, as the accommodation of seasonal workers from the mainland is becoming increasingly problematic. As a result, some hotels are already offering the same accommodation to their seasonal workers.

On the other hand, the Association of Travel Agencies of the Balearic Islands (AVIBA) notes that the influx of seasonal workers to the islands started in March and remained stable in the following months. However, there has been a decrease in the number of Spanish workers in favour of South American workers. “We are seeing a big fluctuation and this change has been evident for some time,” says AVIBA president Pedro Fiol.

Trade unions sound the alarm

The UGT and CCOO unions have long been warning of the consequences of the staff shortage. They fear that excessive workloads in many catering businesses will also lead to an increase in work accidents and cases of illness this summer. “This heavy workload will lead to more accidents and absenteeism, particularly in July, August and September. This is a recurring problem that has worsened in recent years due to staff shortages,” criticises Silvia Montejano, secretary general of the CCOO’s services sector.

The union also strongly criticises the government’s decision not to hire additional inspectors to check and monitor working conditions in the summer. “This is a long-standing demand of the unions. We accuse the government of encouraging labour irregularities and violating the consensus reached in recent years in the context of social dialogue,” Ms. Montejano noted.

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