With Fernando Medina

“We have expanded our knowledge of the Spanish hotel chains in Latin America”


The secretary of International Union Action of the State Federation of Commerce, Hotel and Tourism Workers of Comisiones Obreras (FECOHT - CCOO), Fernando Medina, gave Sirel his first impressions of the outcome of the “Spanish Hotel Chains in Latin America and Union Rights” Conference, just held in Buenos Aires.


“Towards a future assessment of the specific results of this meeting, we can highlight three conclusions: The first is that the report presented by the IUF’s Latin American Office, Rel-UITA, is a truly useful tool, as it allows us to gain insight into a state of affairs that we want to change, and, as was pointed out at the event, we need to expand this report even more, going into greater detail.


Another conclusion is that, for the first time ever, the IUF’s Latin American Regional Secretariat has specifically addressed the issue of Spanish transnational corporations operating in the hotel industry and the obstacles that prevent workers in several countries from forming and maintaining labor organizations.


Thirdly I’d like to highlight the degree of commitment of the region’s hotel workers’ federations and unions; I also thought it was a good idea to have workers from the restaurant sector present –even though we did not specifically discuss their problems–, as it is an area that the IUF is trying to mobilize and organize on a global level through a Working Group. If we incorporate in due time these workers from Chile and Brazil, we will be contributing to reduce that Group’s Eurocentrism,” Medina observed.


“As for my union, and myself, personally –he added–, it’s the satisfaction of having gained insight into Spanish transnational corporations and how they operate in this region, which until now we had only glimpsed intuitively.”


“At CCOO we are aware that with these transnational corporations it is not enough to mobilize at the national level. These hotel chains are investing more and more beyond our borders, and that affects us in one way or another. While the companies see it as a diversification of their investments, giving them protection against any crises that may occur at the local level, for workers it means trouble.


There are investments that should stay in Spain, but it’s more profitable to take them elsewhere –Medina continued. In some countries of Latin America these companies are generating clearly backward labor practices, enabled by gaps in legislation or lack of unionization, and these practices could be imported into our country in the future. We can’t limit our negotiations with a Spanish chain to the problems we have in Spain, while we ignore the rest of the world. If we want to be the least bit effective we have to integrate these two dimensions. That’s what our international labor organizations are for, but these bilateral relations between CCOO and Rel-UITA are also necessary and positive, as they allow us to incorporate different perspectives and better defend the interests of our members in Spain. If we don’t do this now, things will be much harder in the future. So, besides expressing our solidarity, we also have our own interest for participating in these exchanges,” Fernando Medina concluded.




From Buenos Aires, Carlos Amorín
September 30, 2008




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