|The Courier N° 122 July - August 1990 - Dossier Tourism - Country Report: Mali (EC Courier, 1990, 104 p.)|
Held back rather than halted by the recession, the growth of tourism and related activities are again increasing fast and should be the leading sector of the world economy by the year 2000.
The industry is one of the biggest employers worldwide, with jobs for an estimated 100 million workers - many of them overworked, underpaid and ill - protected. Others, however, draw better wages than they would in the world of commerce and have a 40 - hour week and decent social security, as an ILO report on progress and problems with pay, hours and conditions in the industry has found out.
In spite of recent improvements, wages in the hotel, catering and tourist trade in much of Western Europe tend to be lower than those paid for similar jobs elsewhere, the report says. Italy and Switzerland, where the average pay in hotels and restaurants is better than in business, are exceptions.
Women, most of them relegated to low - grade, unskilled jobs, usually earn less than men, although they make up 50 % of the workforce in many places.
The effect of this double disparity comes out in a study produced in the United Kingdom, which emphasises that about 60% of the women working in hotels and restaurants in 1985 were not earning enough to take them above the breadline.
And the ILO report points to serious problems with regard to the protection of migrants, clandestine workers and young people, students especially.
In the USA, for example, a recent enquiry by the Central Office of Accounts in New York and Los Angeles has revealed the frequency of exploitation of this category of workers in a large number of restaurants and some hotels and motels.
However, improvements are to be expected. The old systems of payment based solely on tips or service charges added to the bill are being phased out and replaced by fixed wages. Guaranteed minimum incomes for the off - season are increasingly common and standard service charges are shared out fairly amongst all the staff.
And in an increasing number of Third World countries which have seen considerable tourist expansion, hotel and catering pay seems to have caught up with other sectors, being 20 - 50% higher, even, in some of the big establishments in Cyprus, Egypt and the Philippines.
The report emphasises that, regardless of economic pressure and fierce competition, many employers make it a point of honour always to ensure fair pay and decent working conditions.
Another positive thing is that the 48 - hour week which ILO recommendation No 1 16 prescribes for the sector has been adopted by most of the industrialised nations and some of the developing ones.
Collective bargaining has shortened the working week. It has made the normal timetable a 40 - hour one in Italy and the Federal Republic of C;ermany, for example, although the legal figure is in fact 48.
However, people are still expected to work for long hours in many hotels and restaurants, particularly in the developing countries where staff are often forced to put in weeks of 50 hours or more.
Hotels and restaurants have constantly to be able to cope with unfore seen demand and seasonal fluctuations in staff requirements - which is why the tendency is to go for seasonal, part - time and temporary workers, particularly in the small businesses which predominate in the trade.
According to the latest figures, seasonal work accounts for 44.6 % of employment in this sector in France, 35% in Ireland and 25% in Spain.
Part - time work is particularly common in free market economies in the industrialised world, representing between 12% (Switzerland) and 51% (Australia) of total employment in the sector, with figures of more than 30 % in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Women make up the majority of these staff and in France, for example, represent two thirds of all the part - timers.
There are fewer temporary and occasional workers, who are often locked upon as a way of coping with emergencies. Employers usually take them on at sudden peak periods and to do jobs demanding minimal or no qualifications. They are usually from the dole queue, youngsters seeking a first job, students or clandestine workers and they are in no position to be difficult about conditions of work or employment.
Almost all seasonal, part - time and occasional workers are very vulnerable. Not only are their jobs not secure, but a whole range of benefits (related to health cover, holiday pay, sick leave, unemployment benefits and pensions) are denied them.
So the labour and welfare laws have to be changed so that these vulnerable sections of the population are no longer deprived of social protection, the report says.
And it is every bit as urgent to improve their coverage through collective bargaining too - a challenge for the organised workers in a sector where the rate of union membership tends to be very low.
Lastly, job stability has to be improved. In some cases, measures have indeed been adopted to spread the work more evenly over the year and to make it easier for people to get jobs in other sectors during the off - season. But there is still a long way to go.