(Adds Iberia talks break down without accord)
By Sonya Dowsett
MADRID Dec 7 Workers at Spanish luxury hotels
in historic castles and palaces started a two-day strike on
Friday in protest against job cuts and threatened closures at
the loss-making state-owned chain.
Strikes have become common in Spain in recent months as
workers baulk at lay-offs and pay cuts as the country goes
through a deep recession marked by 25 percent unemployment and
struggles to avoid a sovereign bail-out.
Participation in the strike would likely be over 70 percent
and involve all types of staff, a union spokesman said. Seven
hotels are threatened with closure.
"Today customers will not have room service, they will not
have restaurant service and they will not have bar service," he
Paradores de Turismo announced 644 job cuts in November,
equivalent to around 15 percent of the workforce, blaming
falling occupancy rates and rising losses in a highly
Losses hit 77 million euros in 2011 and were expected to
increase to 107 million euros in 2012, the company said.
The chain of over 90 parador hotels was started in 1926
under the auspices of King Alfonso XIII with the idea of
building a hotel network to promote tourism.
Hotels include a 15th century convent in the Andalusian city
of Granada, at the heart of the Alhambra palace, where
reservations have to be made months in advance, and a cloistered
hostal dating back to 1499 in Santiago de Compostela which
provided lodging for Catholic pilgrims and claims to be one of
the oldest hotels in the world.
Tourists visting Spain face other possible strike-related
setbacks in the coming weeks.
Talks at airline Iberia between management and unions on
Friday, aimed at avoiding six days of strikes set for peak
holiday travel days from Dec. 14 to Dec. 21, broke down without
agreement on Friday. The strikes are to protest plans by parent
company IAG to cut thousands of jobs.
Other strike action in recent weeks has included medical
staff in Madrid over plans to privatise some hospitals and
refuse collection in Jerez de la Frontera, where a work stoppage
stretched on for days, leading to piles of rubbish in the
A general strike on Nov. 14 led to hundreds of cancelled
flights, shut schools and factories.
(Additional reporting by Robert Hetz and Feliciano Tisera;
Editing by Paul Day, Greg Mahlich)