Las Kellys recognised for their work defending hospitality worker rights

Seefeld, 06/02/2019 – The Institute for Tourism and Development (Studienkreis für Tourismus und Entwicklung) will give the “TO DO Award Human Rights in Tourism“ 2019 to the Spanish association “Las Kellys“. In 2019, the internationally recognised prize will be awarded for the third time already. It was announced in cooperation with the Roundtable Human Rights in Tourism and Studiosus Reisen. The award ceremony will take place at ITB in Berlin.

The name of the Spanish association “Las Kellys“ reflects what they do, as in Irish it means “warriors“. The association fights for the rights of chambermaids in the hospitality sector. Tourism in Spain is booming. In 2017 the country welcomed more than 80 million guests. However, this favourable economic situation does not benefit everybody – far from it.

Since the conservative Spanish government passed labour market reforms in the light of the financial and economic crisis in 2012/2013, the chambermaids’ situation has deteriorated dramatically. Most hotel businesses dismissed their staff and transferred their room service to contractors. These agencies for temporary work employ the room attendants under precarious conditions, they no longer belong to any trade union, and no industry-wide collective agreement applies. The consequences: a significantly lower income, even higher work pressure, and occupational diseases are not recognised as such. But the Kellys’ struggle seems to be successful. The association has about 2.000 members already. In Madrid, a delegation of Kelly women met with former Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and got international attention. This helped them to already achieve one of their objectives: to step out of invisibility. And with their demands for better working conditions they also made their voices heard. The new socialist government has presented an action plan against exploitation at the workplace.

The “TO DO Award Human Rights in Tourism“ honours initiatives, projects, and individuals that make outstanding efforts to protect and respect human rights principles along the entire touristic value chain. An expert jury independently selects potential award winners and evaluates their work. 

Announcing the award, Claudia Mitteneder, Managing Director of the Institute for Tourism and Development commented: “Human rights apply universally and are indivisible. This must also apply to the European tourism industry. That is why it is important to us to not just look at world regions far away, but to also be vigilant about the respect for human rights in Europe. We congratulate ’Las Kellys‘ on their untiring efforts on behalf of the weakest sections of this economic system and are as proud of them for what they have achieved to date as they are“.

The “TO DO Award Human Rights in Tourism” will be awarded on 7th March 2019 at 16:30 at Palais am Funkturm on the ITB trade fair grounds. The laudatory speech in honour of the award winner will be held by Dr. Lutz Möller, Deputy Secretary-General of the German Commission for UNESCO. After the award ceremony, participants will be invited to a reception. There will be opportunities for interviews with the award winner.

Studienkreis für Tourismus und Entwicklung e. V.

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