News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week July 4th to July 10th
HOTEL STRIKE THREAT
Catering workers announce a summer of chaos
By Dave Jamieson and Eve Gallagher
WITH MÁLAGA STILL RECOVERING FROM THE RUBBISH COLLECTION STRIKE LAST WEEK, NEWS OF ANOTHER STRIKE HAS EMERGED AFFECTING THE CATERING SECTOR ON THE COSTA DEL SOL.
Industrial action was announced this week by unions representing catering workers, threatening a coast-wide series of two-day stoppages during July and August, beginning on 24 and 25 of this month, following on throughout August. This would affect 35,000 workers in hotels, bars, restaurants, discotheques and function suites.
A special meeting will be held on July 9 in which details of the strike will be made official. After that the only body able to stop the strike will be SERCLA, a mediating committee, which will try a last minute attempt to solve the labour dispute.
BETTER PAY REQUIRED
The unions, whose proposed stoppages follow a breakdown of talks on pay and conditions, have already started to distribute 15,000 informative leaflets in which they explain in detail their petitions for better pay and more secure contracts for workers.
The Unions have been criticised as "lacking responsibility" by an industry spokesman. However, the president of the Costa del Sol Tourism Department, Juan Fraile, was hopeful that the dispute would be resolved before the stoppages take place.
RUBBISH STRIKE CHAOS
Last week, stoppages by staff of Limasa, the company contracted to clear garbage, resulted in hundreds of tons of rubbish rotting in the streets. As reported in last week's Costa del Sol News, residents had complained strongly about the smell in temperatures of 30 degrees, while opposition parties at the Town Hall complained about lack of action by the Mayor.
To make things worse, an on-going dispute between workers and the Town Hall over what constituted minimum service during the strike caused several arrests during scuffles between striking workers and police. It ended, however, when both sides agreed to the intervention of an arbitrator whose decision would be binding. The clear-up operation began immediately, with the authorities estimating it would be a week before the backlog was cleared.
GET A MOVE ON
Angry residents block N-340 in major demonstration
By David Eade
FURIOUS RESIDENTS OF SAN PEDRO DE ALCÁNTARA HAVE HELD THEIR SECOND MAJOR DEMONSTRATION DEMANDING THAT THE GOVERNMENT STARTS WORK IMMEDIATELY ON THE N-340 UNDERPASS THROUGH THE TOWN.
The march was supported by all the local political parties and national police estimate that 800 people took part. At the head of the march was a giant banner calling on the Ministry of Public Works to start immediate work on a project, which was first proposed 11 years ago in 1991. As the crowds walked along the N-340 they blocked the dual carriageway for two hours in both directions causing five-kilometre tailbacks of traffic.
It is estimated that over 40,000 vehicles pass through the San Pedro N-340 bottleneck every day resulting in huge traffic delays. Needless to say the problems are heightened by tourists in the peak summer holiday months and also by the thousands of North Africans heading home via the port of Algeciras.
PLANS GO BACK TO 1991
A plan was first created in 1991 to construct an underground tunnel to take traffic from Las Petunias by the Ronda roundabout to the Arroyo del Chopo at Guadalmina. In 1998, the Ministry of Public Works agreed that the tunnel was urgently needed and in the public interest but still nothing has been done.
Although all Marbella's political parties are agreed on the urgent need for the underpass they do not all sing from the same hymn sheet. The Mayor, Julián Muñoz, of the GIL party said: "Now is the hour when they must listen to the voices of the people of San Pedro."
Angeles Muñoz, president of the local PP, said: "I am in favour of this project even though the Town Hall and regional government do not have the same interests."
The fact of the matter is that the delay in constructing the much-needed underpass is all related to the town planning war that has engulfed Marbella in recent years. There is an on-going dispute between Marbella Town Hall, regional government and entral government all of which are governed by different parties. Until all three can reach an accord on the town planning policy for Marbella the people of San Pedro may have to keep on marching.
GIB TALKS CONTINUE
By David Eade
Last week's informal discussions in London between Britain's Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, and his Spanish counterpart, Josep Piqué, will be followed by another official meeting under the Brussels Process on July 19 in Madrid.
Spain's Premier, José María Aznar, insisted that his government was still optimistic on reaching an agreement with Britain. Speaking at the weekend in Seveilla, Foreign Secretary Piqué said he believed that an accord could be reached by the end of the summer although he did concede it would be difficult.
Gibraltar's Chief Minister, Peter Caruana, who made a weekend visit to the feria in Algeciras as the guest of Mayor Patricio González, said he believed it was very probable that there wouldn't be an agreement between Britain and Spain on Gibraltar.
IT WAS AN INVASION
According to a report in the Spanish daily newspaper 'El Mundo', a source in the Spanish Government has said that the invasion of La Línea by around 20 British marines on February 17 was a deliberate act. At the time it was reported that the marines mistook the Poniente beach of La Línea for Gibraltar which is just a few yards away.
'El Mundo' suggests that the invasion was a deliberate act by Britain's Ministry of Defence to try and scupper the Anglo-Spanish negotiations on the future of the Rock. Britain's Ministry of Defence has dismissed the story as nonsense.
FIVE STAR HOTEL BLOCKED
By David Eade
REGIONAL GOVERNMENT HAS STEPPED IN TO BLOCK THE DEVELOPMENT OF A FIVE-STAR HOTEL NEAR BENALMÁDENA'S PUERTO DEPORTIVO.
The hotel was to be constructed by property developer Marín-Hillinger on a site in the urbanisation Fuente de la Salud.
To allow the hotel to proceed Benalmádena Town Hall had modified its planning requirements for the site. Amongst the changes was the switch from residential to hotel use allowing a building of three floors instead of the original two.
The five-star hotel was to have 400 beds and the provincial delegate of public works, Enrique Salvo Tierra considered the development to be disproportionate for the site. He considered 'the urbanisation of Fuente de la Salud couldn't support all the infrastructures required by a five star establishment'.
MARBELLA STOPS APARTMENT HOTEL
The community of owners of the Casablanca urbanisation in Marbella have won their first battle against the construction of the Guadalpín apartment hotel. The local police have stopped building work after the property owners officially complained that the development on the site of the old Guadalpín hotel was infringing town planning laws.
The Mayor of Marbella, Julián Muñoz, had ordered work to be stopped on March 21 but his decree had been ignored. The community of owners claim that the block of apartments, shops and garages is in excess of the limits laid down by the planning regulations. In addition it is claimed the developers only have permission to remodel or enlarge the old hotel.
MORE WIND GENERATORS FOR TARIFA
By David Eade
Within the next couple of months there will be a major expansion of the number of wind generators sited in the municipality of Tarifa. Regional government has given its approval for another 253 wind generators to be installed within Tarifa's boundaries, which will have a collective power of 330 megawatts.
The 253 wind generators will be spread over 21 parks operated by Endesa, Wind Ibérica, Eólica, El Pino and Eólica El Pedregoso. However regional government has placed some restrictions on the new parks as they must not be within 500 metres of residential areas. Also six parks have had to modify their plans so as to leave space for the proposed Cádiz to Algeciras railway line.
Tarifa was one of the pioneering zones for wind-generated energy in Spain. However in the past 11 years Andalucía has slipped back in the wind generation league, which is now led by Galicia with 288.41 megawatts. Spain generates 3,337 megawatts of electricity each year from wind-powered sources making it second to only Germany within Europe.
NINETEEN BLUE FLAGS FOR ALMERÍA
ALMERÍA HAS THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF BLUE FLAG BEACHES IN THE REGION THIS SUMMER.
Nineteen out of the 63 in Andalucía are in Almería, while Málaga and Cádiz are runners-up with 17. The EU has rated Spain's beaches as the best in Europe. Now regional government's health department has carried out its own exhaustive tests on the hygiene and sanitary state of Andalucia's bathing waters and 205 beaches have passed with flying colours.
In addition, 83 beaches and ports in Andalucía have been awarded the prestigious 'blue flags' by the EU, which is an improvement over the total of 72 for last year. Almería has 19 beaches and four ports, Cádiz 17 beaches and six ports, Málaga 17 beaches and seven ports, Huelva six beaches and two ports and Granada four beaches and one port.
PELICANS AT WORK
Meanwhile, two ecological cleaning boats have started work on the Málaga coast this week. Based in Málaga and Vélez-Málaga and nicknamed "pelicans", their task is to keep waters near beaches clear of solids and hydrocarbons floating on the surface. The pelicans will work the coast for two months, at a cost of 100,000 euros.
LUXURY COUNTRY CLUB FOR ESTEPONA
The property company Lábaro has announced it intends to construct a luxury urbanisation to be called the Costa Galera Country Club. It will require an investment of 72 million euros. The first phase will consist of 262 apartments, 20 semi-detached chalets, a club house and sports zones. Work should start in September and be completed by December 2003.
Lábaro says a unique feature of their development will be the club house for residents which will include health, beauty and leisure centres. There will be a gym, an acclimatised swimming pool, sauna, Turkish bath, jacuzzi, massage room, beauty salon, games room, restaurant and cafeteria. The Mayoress of Estepona, Rosa Díaz, has stressed the importance of such luxury developments to the town.