|By Sinikka Tarvainen, dpa,
BerlinMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Dec. 07, 2012--MADRID -- Employees at Spain's historic luxury hotel chain Paradores de Turismo began a series of strikes Friday over job cuts at the state-owned company.
Founded in 1928, Paradores lodges travellers at castles, palaces, monasteries and other historic buildings all over the country.
Seven of its 93 hotels will now be closed, while 27 will only remain open for seven months a year. The savings plan will axe 640 jobs and cut working hours and pay for many of the remaining 3,470 employees.
Trade unions have announced work stoppages for Friday -- which many Spaniards took off following a national holiday on Thursday -- as well as Saturday, December 31 and January 1.
Isabel Borrego, a secretary of state responsible for tourism, said the New Year strike was an "irresponsible" act which would cause losses amounting to 1.5 million euros (2 million dollars).
The strike announcement has already led to cancellations at many of the hotels. At the Parador do Albarino in the north-western region of Galicia, for instance, about 50 people cancelled their stays this weekend, the newspaper Faro de Vigo reported.
Paradores' losses have totalled more than 100 million euros since 2007, when the economic crisis began biting in Spain and Europe.
Union representative Enrique Sanchez attributed the losses to poor management. Unions fear that the job cuts are a first step towards privatizing the company.
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