Cleaning hotel rooms and apartments is one of the toughest jobs in the tourism industry. Housekeepers have to deal with 20, 30 or even more dependencies on a daily basis. Some of them, in deplorable condition, as recently denounced in Benidorm. “You are forced to make rooms in 15 minutes and in that time there is not even time to remove the garbage. This means that many colleagues end up working overtime for free,” laments Miriam, a chambermaid in Barcelona.
To end this precarious situation, the Kellys, one of the unions that brings together these workers, has decided to launch an ethical reservation portal. In the style of Booking or Tripadvisor, but exclusively for those hotels and accommodations that meet minimum working conditions. The idea, which had been maturing for years, was launched just a month ago. And through the crowdfunding platform Drip They have already achieved the 60,000 euros with which they believe they can start preparing the project.
“Our idea is to send a clear message to hoteliers and businessmen. Either they stop exploiting us, or their business is over,” argues Miriam, who is one of the spokespersons for the group. The portal, which will be called the ‘Kellys Reservation Center’, will also be one of the milestones of a labor movement that was born just five years ago and which has brought the voice of these employees to regional parliaments, Congress and even to the European Commission. His intention is that the reservation website is up and running in 2022 for Barcelona and that, from there, it can be expanded.
In Spain it is estimated that there are about 100,000 housekeeping, almost all women, a figure that can increase in the summer season and decrease when tourism drops. In addition to the precarious working conditions, their great concern is the physical harshness of the work, which ends up taking its toll. 70% self-medicate, according to a CCOO study, either to withstand pain or to contain stress.
The portal will establish labor requirements to accept hotels and tourist apartments, which may participate voluntarily in the initiative. Among the conditions that the Kellys will impose, which have yet to specify how they will supervise it, are respect for the collective agreement of the Hospitality and Tourism Sector – which varies depending on the provinces and communities -, the promotion of permanent contracts, the compliance with occupational risk prevention laws or equal pay for men and women. The Barcelona Hoteliers Guild has not yet made a statement.
But if there is one requirement that Kellys stand out above any other, and which is perhaps the most controversial, it is that of outsourcing cleaning. Hotels that want to be considered ethical will not be able to have room maids subcontracted, a very common practice in the sector since the labor reform allowed it in 2012. “A female worker who cleans an essential part of the hotel is a structural task It cannot be outsourced “, argues Miriam, who attributes to this model of multi-service companies the fact that many cleaners today have worse wages and more unstable contracts.
‘Fair Hotels’, another initiative of CCOO and UGT
The ‘Kellys Reservation Center’ is not the first initiative in Spain to bring together in a single portal those companies that treat their workers well. A few years ago, the CCOO and UGT unions, together with the University of Malaga, started a similar project called ‘Fair Hotels‘, which is in fact the name that this movement receives all over the world. The portal, which can be consulted publicly, was going to be launched more than a year ago. They even have the endorsement of the Ministry of Tourism. But the pandemic and its impact on this sector paralyzed everything.
To relaunch the project, the unions are waiting for the Government to open a public tender to hire an auditor who is in charge of verifying that the hotels comply with the labor requirements, which also have to do with the collective agreement, the wage gap or the occupational health. “The idea is to give the chains a seal of labor quality that gives them a public projection, an added value” for all those who have an interest in not exploiting the workers, explains Gonzalo Fuertes, CCOO’s sector manager for Tourism.
One of the differences between this portal and that of the Kellys is that the unions do not consider as a requirement the non-outsourcing of services. They consider that if the law allows it, they cannot claim it, as they do with compliance with the agreement. Although he does not oppose the Kellys portal, he does warn that making too many demands can end up causing no one to comply and that this causes the project to fail.