|Thursday 30 July, 2015 Edition #4727|
Podemos and hoteliers at loggerheads
Laura Camargo of Podemos yesterday accused the hotel industry of worker exploitation and fraud during the first meeting betwen the two bodies, which clearly did not get off to a good start.
In the meeting with the Majorca Hoteliers Federation, she said that nine out of ten employment contracts are temporary and that overtime is not paid.
It would be desirable, she added, were these conditions to be changed in the next few weeks, but she doubted that they would be as the interests of the federation are not the same as those of workers and never have been. “This year we will beat tourism records but at the same time we will beat the record for job insecurity,” said Camargo, whose party will be meeting the federations in Minorca and Ibiza with the same aim in mind, that of creating decent working conditions.
Camargo insists that things have changed and that the hoteliers no longer have the power they have had in the past.
From now on, she said, the needs of workers will have to be taken into consideration and that “the laws will not be dictated by the hoteliers”.
Inmaculada de Benito for the federation reiterated that there are no data to show any fraud and that, as shown by inspections and by statistics, the hotel sector is unique in not having destroyed jobs while also having strict labour conditions agreements and maximum compliance. “We are faithful to the workers,” she said.
With regard to inspections, David Abril of Més said that no one could deny that the black economy had grown because of the crisis and that the regional government is working on re-employing ten inspectors, whose positions were cut by the Bauzá administration.
There will also be, added Abril, an urgent plan against labour fraud.
September court date for Matas
José Castro, the judge instructed to investigate charges filed by the anti-corruption prosecutor Pedro Horrach in respect of the process to award the contract for the construction of Son Espases hospital, has called the former Balearic president, Jaume Matas, to appear before him in September.
Matas is one of eight people cited by the prosecution as suspect in the affair, charges levelled at him and others being forgery, fraud and abuse of public office.
Castro has issued subpoenas as the start of his process of investigating the facts of the case presented to him, and the first person who has been called to appear is the former health minister Aina Castillo.
She is scheduled to declare on 1 September, as is the one-time director-general of IB-Salut (the Balearic health service), Sergio Beltrán.
Matas is due to appear on 16 September, and Juan Miguel Villar Mar, the president of the construction company OHL, has been called for the following day. The case centres on allegations that Matas and the others conspired in seeking to rig the award of the contract in favour of OHL and so against a rival bidder, a consortium headed by the company Dragados.
The contract was for the most expensive public works ever carried out in the Balearics, with an initial budget of 780 million euros.
Horrach maintains that the tender contest was manipulated and “perverted” by Matas.
“He held absolute control over it.”
In the end, Dragados was awarded the contract, but this came about, it is alleged on the day the award was to be announced, irregularities with the award were revealed.
Matas then intervened, itself a legally questionable action, with the result that Dragados got the contract.
Castillo and Beltrán have both collaborated with the investigations, but there are further aspects that Horrach wants to examine, such as whether bribes and illegal commissions were paid.
Barcelona and Madrid are bracing for a standoff
The President of Catalonia, Arthur Mas, has pronounced the 27 September regional elections in Catalonia a de facto plebiscite on independence.
He is warning that he will declare unilateral independence in the event of his reelection within six months of his elections. The longstanding President is leading a secessionist bloc with the Catalan Republican Left (ERC).
In a poll published this week, the pro-independence camp in Catalonia is leading the polls, with 39% favouring a union and 47% preferring independence. This is a comfortable lead for secession.
54% of Catalans could live with a Federal Spain in the framework of greater devolution, an idea that is supported across Spain by merely 34%.
Across the country, a standoff between Barcelona and Madrid is thought to be inevitable by 60% of respondents whilst 73% agree that Catalan secession would be bad for Spain.
The standoff has already begun.
Last November, the Catalan government held an unofficial referendum that yielded a pro-independence result.
This set the region on a pro-independence trajectory ruining a 37 year governing coalition between the President’s CiU (Democratic Convergence of Catalonia) and the Democratic Union of Catalonia (UDC). The new found ally for Mas, the ERC, has paradoxically been the longstanding left opposition to Mas.
UDC does not support outright independence, but merely greater Spanish devolution.
The new emerging political force originating from Catalonia, Ciudadanos, are also largely pro-union. Whilst this is thought to be a minority position, it is gaining ground.
Being anti-independence is historically a taboo issue since unitary positions have for long been associated with the Franco regime.
But, the pro-independence movement correlates with policies of severe austerity, thought to be imposed by Madrid, adding a “neoliberal” layer upon the Franco unitary legacy. Ironically, the champion of independence, the President Arthur Mas, was the one who introduced most of the pro-austerity legislation and even had to be flown with a helicopter into the Catalan parliament to circumvent angry demonstrators in 2011.
King Felipe VI
The Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, has made clear that on his watch Catalonia is not going to leave Spain.
King Felipe VI also called upon the Prime Minister of Catalonia to respect rule of law.
Families spending less on food
Supermarkets in Extremadura are selling to the toughest crowd.
Families in this region of Spain are the most frugal in the whole country, spending a canny €3,840 on food annually.
At the other end of the scale, the average Basque family spent €5,000 on their groceries last year.
The national average food spend is set at around €4,000 per year, some €333 per month and roughly €83 per week.
Closely behind their Basque neighbours, Catalans and Galicians were the only other two regions to spend above the national median on food.
Generally, Spaniards are spending less on food than before and splurged €60 less in 2014 than in 2013.
Staggeringly, the Spanish spend a quarter of their budget on meat, although this also saw a decrease in 2014.
Fruit and vegetables are the second most popular buy, followed by bread and cereal while desserts and alcohol are the least in demand.
Llucmajor-Campos road not the most dangerous
The loss of 17 lives in the past ten years along the stretch of the MA-19 that connects Llucmajor and Campos has led it to be described as the most dangerous road in Majorca.
However, according to the Council of Majorca’s Mercedes Garrido, it isn’t.
Without specifying others, the councillor for infrastructure has nevertheless fleshed out the Council’s “urgent measures” for this particular road.
Reduce speed limit
The speed limit along the whole road will be reduced to 90kph and to 80 along the most dangerous section, where there is a fixed speed radar.
Other measures include improving nighttime visibility and signage and hopefully stopping overtaking by means of a solid white line in three sections (a total distance of just over five kilometres).
These measures are expected to take effect before 10 August.
A second phase, to be implemented after the summer, will see 250 metres of safety barrier being installed as well as a widening of access roads.
Garrido also referred to the proposed extension of the motorway to Campos, something that had been drafted by the previous administration. The new council team wants to reduce the impact of what was envisaged in this draft and, as it hadn’t been finalised definitively, there is scope for change, taking into account views of town halls that are affected. Among changes, there is likely to be an underpass where previously a roundabout had been considered in the Son Gabriela section. Garrido believes that the revised draft will take no longer than three months to be processed.