Chambermaids Revolt

“We do not ever stop working, not to eat or even to go to the toilet. We are invisible of the hotel, the last in line and the worst paid,” shared by a hotel chambermaid in Seville in southern Spain named Carolina Martín.

The trade unions have described this situation as semi-slavery, believing this it was mainly due to outsourcing. But Spain’s estimated 100,000 chambermaids are fighting back and have used social media to organize themselves as Las Kellys. Their slogan is, “get organized if you do not want them to organize you.”

“Before the law was changed, for any outsourcing to be legal the companies had to offer better conditions than those laid out in the convenios (the regional sector agreement),” says Isabel Cruz of Las Kellys in Barcelona.

The group wanted to raise public awareness, end the outsourcing and that all hotels must adhere to the convenios. They complain that they receive little support from trade unions.

These women complain health problems, such as back pain and arthritis. Aside from these, many say they only get through the shift on a diet of painkillers. However, the hoteliers refuse to see these situations as work-related. NH Hotels chain, for example, manages 131 hotels in Spain. According to The Guardian, its annual report from 2014 to 2016 shows profits in Spain increased by €76m. The average daily room rate, on the other hand, rose by 9.2 percent.

NH Hotels said in a statement that outsourcing was necessary to cope with fluctuating demand. The establishment added that they take all necessary means to assure the rights of outsourced workers. They made sure that companies failing to comply would lose their contracts.

“Chambermaids are a key part of the core business. Outsourcing has destroyed working conditions,” Anna Castán, manager of the four-star Hotel Barcelona Catedral, told a meeting of Las Kellys. Therefore, they have every right to earn enough in order to save money in the bank.

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