The Government activates the first sectoral ERTE for travel agencies




The ERTE negotiations have always been taken to the limit and, on this occasion, it has happened again, which, once again, has caused uncertainty among the 105,043 workers who have their employment suspended.
Yesterday the Government guaranteed businessmen and unions that it will maintain protection for ERTEs
of force majeure that continue beyond February 28, but that will no longer extend the current temporary employment regulation files linked to the pandemic. As of March, the ERTE formulas included in the labor reform, the so-called RED Mechanism, will be activated.

In application of this new mechanism, the Executive will create the first of the sectoral ERTEs, which will be aimed at travel agencies, one of the businesses hardest hit by the pandemic.

15% of the agencies in Spain have had to close due to Covid and today 30% of their workers are still under the umbrella of an ERTE. “It is a small sector, but almost one in three workers is still in ERTE. There are about 10,000 nationwide, "said the Minister of Social Security, José Luis Escrivá, yesterday.

The Spanish Confederation of Travel Agencies (CEAV) had requested in a statement to the Government the inclusion of the sector in the RED Mechanism, as it was not "in a position to resume its activity under normal conditions" after February 28. The percentage of workers with their employment suspended in travel agency companies is much higher than that of sectors such as airlines or hospitality companies, which currently have 7% of their workforce in an ERTE .

The large groups of travel agencies will be very aware of the new labor scenario that opens from March (Travel El Corte Inglés, Ávoris and Nautalia), which are negotiating adjustments for 8,600 workers. Only Travel The English Court had proposed layoffs for 620 workers, later reduced to 549. The three had opened talks to negotiate a ERTE for economic, technical, organizational or production reasons (ETOP), so far without bonuses, while the new scheme advanced by the Government for the sector offers aid of up to 40% for companies, while the worker receives 70% of unemployment, without a grace period or consumption of benefits.

Tourism in suspense

Of the 105,000 people currently affected by an ERTE, 55,000 hold jobs that are related to tourism. These numbers give an idea of ​​the crossroads that the sector is going through and the nervousness generated by the delay in the announcement of the protection that they will have starting next month.

What will happen to hotels or restaurants, which between the two add up to 37,491 workers in ERTE? According to the current approach of government, the firms of these sectors must register, if they deem it so, a new file. In the event of new health restrictions (such as closures or capacity restrictions), these companies could access a force majeure or activity limitation file. Both enable an exemption of 90% of social contributions. Or they could raise a ERTE for productive reasons, if they can only prove a drop in billing. This is exempt at 20% and is also linked to worker training.

Omicron plus inflation

the variant Omicron has deflated the tourist recovery in Spain. After a 2021 marked by a summer that returned the sector to significant levels of activity, thanks above all to Spanish demand, the new mutation of the coronavirus has deflated expectations for this year, which makes job support more necessary than ever to avoid layoffs, as would have happened in travel agencies. As reported by ABC, the greater transmission of the virus caused an avalanche of cancellations in hotels during the month of December and that the end of the year was not as expected months before. Adding to it runaway inflation since April, a skyrocketing electricity price and the supply crisis, tourism once again postpones full recovery until at least 2023.

There is still a lot of precision to know how the new employment protection model included in the labor reform will be applied when the end of the month is just around the corner. The Government has committed itself to the social agents to present "an adaptation proposal" that allows for an orderly transition from the ERTE Covid to the RED Mechanism.

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