Arab sheik-owned Algarve hotel workers strike over lack of pay dating back to March

51sheik strikeLocal workers at the JJW Hotels & Resorts Group, owned by Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber, will be going on strike on 12 June due to overdue wages. The decision was taken this morning, unanimously, in plenary, at the hotel group's Portuguese headquarters at the Pinheiros Altos project, in Quinta do Lago.

As explained by the Hotel Union of the Algarve, “with this form of struggle, workers demand payment of wages in and the fulfilment of their rights. At the moment, there are workers who say they have not yet received the full salary for the month of March and others have not received anything for the month of April, and the salary for the month of May is also overdue”. According to the union, “when the company's management became aware that the workers were organizing themselves to participate in today's meeting session, they were faced with new promises, which again was not fulfilled in full, and with phone calls from hierarchical superiors asking that workers do not participate in the strike”.

The Hotel Union of the Algarve appeals to employees "to reinforce their unity and mobilization for the struggle and to join the strike on the 12th of June ". The union also says that it will send a request for a meeting to the administration, to try to avoid the strike.

Overdue wages and lack of information about the safety of their jobs in the future are what is making the nearly 500 workers of the JJW Hotels & Resorts Group, which owns the five-star Penina hotel, in Alvor, and the Dona Filipa, in Vale do Lobo, as well as Formosa Park, in Ancão, and the San Lorenzo and Pinheiros Altos golf courses, in Quinta do Lago.

“They paid the March salary in two instalments, 270 and 410 euros, they did not pay the April salary and they never told us anything again - if we were going to lay-off, how would it be. Anything. And those who are working, maintaining the facilities, are in the same situation. Many have even terminated their contract. We feel completely abandoned,” described one of the group's employees.

The situation had been reported a few weeks ago by the Algarve Workers’ Union for Hotels, Tourism, Restaurants and Similar Industry, which, in the last week of April, revealed that about two thirds of the employees of this group, owned by the multimillionaire sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber, had not yet received full pay for the month of March.

At the time, the union promoted a demonstration in Quinta do Lago, in front of the home of one of the sons of the hotel owner.

Although there have been some workers receiving their March salary, paid in instalments, there are a minority of employees who are still waiting to receive that month's salary.

However, the management of JJW Hotels & Resorts claims to press that the group has overpaid the April salary, and that all debts “should be paid later this week".

“The entire hotel business closed, so the operators did not pay us for February or March, which created cash flow problems. We had to resort to the shareholder, who has been getting ahead”, justified the hotel group. The same official source from JJW Portugal guaranteed that the group's golf courses in Quinta do Lago are already "functioning" and that the hotels Penina and Dona Filipa "will reopen on the 4th and 7th of June", respectively, with the remaining Formosa Park “under renovation”.

Despite having closed the hotels, the group kept the canteen of the Hotel Penina & Golf Resort open and continued to provide meals to its workers.

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