Job quality in Mallorca
The mantra for Mallorca tourism is, and the words to this effect, no matter how much, is the quality. Less is more, assuming that the less is of sufficient quality to generate more expense than the quantity has so far. With less, the island will be better protected from the effects of the very industry that supports it, while less will simultaneously generate wealth for employment – and quality employment.
The search for quality jobs is one of the commandments inscribed on the walls of the seat of government of the Balearic Islands and is doubly underlined on the portal of the Ministry of the economic model, tourism and employment. When you consider the policy area challenges facing this government, where does this quest rank in terms of paramount importance?
Ministers, still committed to a principle of equality, would arguably argue that there is equal weight, but in terms of public statements it can sometimes appear as if this specific quest lies above the climate emergency. , health, education, housing, social services and so on, all in itself programs on demand with high qualitative added value.
This holy grail of employment is naturally linked to other areas, obviously education and increasingly the climate emergency. The response to climate change is to transition not only the means of supplying electricity but also the productive sector. Straight up it comes down to new jobs, especially those in photovoltaic system. But once the panels are in place, the employment rate for management and maintenance drops significantly.
The green economy is looking for new avenues for the productive sector, such as the manufacture of hydrogen. But so far there is an illusion with this as far as jobs and well applications are concerned. Mapping a future for employment on these islands, well paid and secure, is akin to the work of medieval cartographers mapping the globe, much of which they were unaware of.
Inherent in this future must be the hoped-for change in employment in the largest of all sectors – tourism, both directly and indirectly. Giving a definitive figure on the scale of tourism employment cannot be a exact science due to the changing dynamics of demand, seasonality being the most obvious cause of variation.
Typically, however, the tourism workforce averages around 30% of the labor market, with some 13% of that labor market (based on the highest levels of summer employment) contracted under “fijo discontinuo” conditions – around 80,000 employees.
We talk about it so often, what does this quality job involve? The answer is simple: good salaries and permanent contracts, including those of fijo discontinuo employees. An argument on the lack of winter tourism focuses on this form of contract. As this means semi-permanent work but with the advantages offered to permanent labor, this is grounds for seasonal dismissal. Therefore, businesses are closing.
Anyway, because it is different for quality employment, and according to the Economic and Social Council (CES), already with us, even if there is still a greater quality to be created. The CES has been producing a quality of work index since 2004. Its latest report, which applies to 2020 (and therefore with all the Covid warnings), finds that the Balearics rank third among spanish regions behind the Basque Country (usually number one) and Navarre.
For the Balearic Islands, a regional economy so geared towards tourism, competing with two regions that are not dominated by tourism must surely mean something. At the bottom of the scale are the Canaries (thirteenth), Valencia (fifteenth) and Andalusia (sixteenth). The bottom of the rankings is Extremadura, a non-tourist economy and generally considered the poorest region in Spain.
So everything is going pretty well for the Balearics, you think. The biggest component of the index is compensation. This represents 51%. Others are working conditions (including employment contracts), accident rate, work-life balance, training, promotion and gender equality. The authors point out that despite the problems in 2020, the Balearic Islands managed to keep the third place reached in 2019, having gone from a more typical classification between fourth and sixth place.
All pretty good, and yet almost simultaneously with the release of the CES report for 2020 came the latest figures from the Labor Force Survey. In 2020, the average salary in the Balearic Islands (gross) fell almost five percent to 1,844.85 euros per month. Indispensable, one would think, and me too, even if the CES presents a more positive panorama.
This average is far from being high for a region with the cost of living it has. And the averages are of course just that. There are all those who are below average. What did the tax agency report just a few weeks ago? In 2020, there were 135,000 workers in the Balearic Islands who did not earn more than half of the minimum wage. Exceptional circumstances and all that, but that was an extraordinary number and paints a different picture than CES.
The search for quality jobs, which above all means good salary (as indicated by the weighting given by the CES), has a long way to go.