Ho­tel maids aim to clean up pay rules

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Madrid

Spain is en­joy­ing a surge in vis­i­tors, but ho­tel maids are not reap­ing the re­wards and are re­belling against their low salaries, which can be as lit­tle as 2 eu­ros to clean a room.

The coun­try, which wel­comed over 68 mil­lion for­eign tourists last year — its third con­sec­u­tive year of record num­bers — em­ploys around 100,000 ho­tel maids, ac­cord­ing to union es­ti­mates.

Over the past two years more and more maids have been chal­leng­ing their con­tracts in courts and com­ing out in the press with tales of ex­ploita­tion in the world’s third most-vis­ited coun­try.

Pepita Gar­cia Lu­pi­anez, who has worked for 40 years in the sea­side re­sort of Torre- moli­nos on the Costa del Sol, is one of the lead­ers of the fight de­spite en­joy­ing bet­ter con­di­tions than most.

She had a full-time con­tract and earns 1,300 eu­ros ($1,400) per month, far above the min­i­mum wage of 764.40 eu­ros.

“I am al­most ashamed when I meet with col­leagues em­ployed by sub­con­trac­tors who have con­tracts of four to six hours and work in re­al­ity eight or 10 hours,” said Lu­pi­anez, 59, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive with Spain’s big­gest union, Comi­siones Obr­eras.

“Their em­ploy­ers tells them: ‘ Un­til you have fin­ished, you can’t leave!’ ”.

Lu­pi­anez took part in a protest in the south­ern city of Malaga on Thurs­day against a re­form of Spain’s la­bor code in 2012 which maids say has led to lower salaries.

Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy’s con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment de­fends its re­form of the code, cred­it­ing it with a drop in Spain’s job­less rate to be­low 20 per­cent from a record high 27 per­cent in 2013.

Spain’s ho­tel and re­tail sec­tor ac­counted for nearly half of all jobs cre­ated this year, ac­cord­ing to a study, but crit­ics say most of the new jobs are tem­po­rary.

LIANG SEN / XIN­HUA NEWS AGENCY

JORGE GUERRERO / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Span­ish ho­tel maid Pepita Gar­cia Lu­pi­anez holds union flags as she takes part in a protest.

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