In one of the most popular real estate portals for the search for rental housing, around 1,100 properties are offered on the island of Mallorca. Of these, only just over 300 are offered for a monthly rental of less than one thousand euros. On the island of Ibiza the situation is even more serious because of the 87 apartments that are advertised on this portal, there are only two that do so for less than a thousand euros and one of them is a studio of just 30 square meters for which 800 euros are requested. The skyrocketing price of rental housing is one of the factors that this year discourages the incorporation of tourist workers who traditionally return to the islands to work in the summer season. In the Balearic Islands there are around 85,000 discontinuous permanent workers, a type of indefinite contract to cover jobs that are carried out only in one period of the year and that is very common in hotels or agriculture.
The Hotel Federation of Mallorca has been warning for weeks of the difficulties in finding qualified personnel to complete the templates and maintain that one of the main problems is the lack of affordable housing, which has dragged on like a slab for years. “In some areas there are already hotel establishments that for many years had availability to offer accommodation, but in many there is no such availability of housing. Some solutions are to reduce hours and services in the hotels, such as closing some of the restaurants for a few hours, but we will see how the season evolves, ”stresses the president of the employers’ association, María Frontera. The housing problem is difficult to tackle immediately in the second community where the price of rent rose the most between 2011 and 2020, according to data from the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, which shows an increase of 43%, passing from 8.1 euros per square meter in 2011 to 11.7 euros in 2020.
“This year is much worse than the previous ones. Last summer I paid 700 euros for a double room in the center of Ibiza and this year they are asking me for 1,000. A two-bedroom flat for the season is around 2,500 euros”, says Jorge, an Asturian who will arrive in Ibiza next week to work, as he has for five years, as a driver in a vehicle company for private transfers of high-end tourists. standing. A week after landing on the island, she has not found accommodation and for the moment she has rented a room in a hostel while the search continues through Telegram and Facebook groups. She warns that this year many landlords are asking for all the seasonal rental money in advance, which means paying “more than 9,000 euros between rent, deposit and agency.” “Either you have contacts or money. For people who come to work for the first time, it’s complicated, there’s a lot of cheekiness,” she says.
In Ibiza, for some seasons, job offers with accommodation included have proliferated, a practice that has begun to be reinstated also to find workers in certain tourist centers far from the cities in Mallorca. Rafael Carrión is head chef, a native of Toledo and has been employed for the last five years in restaurants on the island. Next May he will start working at a four-star hotel in the Alcudia area after accepting an offer that also included an apartment to live in until the end of the season, when he will return to Palma or return to Toledo. “On an economic level, the offers are very similar to how they were three years ago, but before they didn’t offer you accommodation and now, as things are more complicated, they are offering it.” In the five interviews he has done for positions in hotels on the island, he has been offered the possibility of having a place to live.
Despite the offers with accommodation, the lack of workers is a constant in the hotel and restaurant sector. The director of human resources of the Garden Hotels chain, Agustín Echevarría, believes that it will be difficult to complete the staff of their hotels, which is currently at 75%, although they have rented several floors to be able to house some workers. “Despite the fact that our collective agreement is very competitive at the national level, housing weighs heavily. To this is added that in the years of the pandemic there has been a readjustment of people who have relocated to other areas and have decided not to return to tourism, ”he points out. The lack of workers occurs, above all, to fill positions of head chef, second chef and head of departure.
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.
The unions are already warning of the consequences that the lack of workers in the sector may have and they fear that the workloads of those who have joined with the seasonal calls will increase more than they should. For the secretary of the Federation of Workers Commission Services in the Balearic Islands, Silvia Montejano, this is the main risk of the situation that is beginning to be glimpsed for this summer. She believes that hoteliers “should not wait for establishments to be full” to look for workers, because being slow will only worsen the situation of the workforce. “They are going to squeeze the workers like they were lemons or oranges. If there is a lack of workers, it is because the employers want them. If there is no housing, they should put a supplement, an incentive or pay part of the rent”, reproaches José García, head of the Federation of Services, mobility and consumption of UGT Baleares, for whom hiring during a period of the year does not generate attractiveness for the worker.
Real estate agents in the Balearic Islands acknowledge that in recent weeks they have been receiving daily requests from workers to rent flats during these seasonal months. Long-term rentals and vacation rentals compete in the real estate market with seasonal accommodation and for Natalia Bueno, president of the Association of Agents, there is “little fix” because most owners refuse to rent for months. “Those who rent temporarily switched to vacation rentals a long time ago, and those who want long-term rentals avoid temporary rentals. Finding a solution is complicated as long as we have the housing stock that we have”, she underlines. Bet on a change of mentality of hotel businessmen to “return to the chip they had in the eighties”, when seasonal workers were housed by hoteliers and received a salary that allowed them to obtain returns and even eventually acquire a small property . “With the real estate salaries and current salaries, now it is impossible,” she concludes.
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