Channel 4 lifts the lid on worker abuse

Britain and Ireland’s largest union, Unite called on Premier Inn’s owner Whitbread, to end exploitative work practices and its ‘work until you drop’ culture after Channel 4’s Dispatches lifted the lid on worker abuse at the hotel chain this evening (Monday 12 February).

The Dispatches programme, Undercover in Premier Inn, highlighted how staff are not being paid for all the hours they work, as well as being under continual pressure to hit punishing and unrealistic productivity targets.

Warning of reputational damage to its business, Unite called on Whitbread to change its business model which drives the supply of its housekeeping staff and to clean up its act by treating workers properly. It can then start abiding by its own human rights policy by allowing employees workplace access to trade unions and allow them to join and form a trade union.

Unite is campaigning for better treatment of workers at Premier Inn’s 760 UK hotels and for the hotel chain to recognise Unite and allow workers access to a trade union.

Unite has launched a petition calling on Premier Inn’s owner, Whitbread to clean up its act.

Commenting Unite national officer Rhys McCarthy said: “Channel 4’s Dispatches has lifted the lid on Premier Inn’s exploitative work practices, with many of its findings echoing what we have been told by the hotel chain’s workers.

“The work until you drop culture, unremitting pressure on workers to hit unrealistic productivity targets, combined with staff not being paid for all the hours worked, are work practices you’d expect to find in a sweat shop not a leading hotel chain.

“Revelations such as these can cause severe reputational damage. This is at odds with Premier Inn’s brand image as a family friendly hotel chain. Customers will expect better.

“Whitbread can stamp out these exploitative employment practices in an instance should it choose to do so.

“It should also ensure that the workers can form a union. What good is Whitbread’s human rights policy if the chain won’t even recognise the workers’ union, Unite.”


For more information please contact, Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec on 07774146777

Note to editors:

Premier Inn workers, members of Unite in their own words:

“I’m scared of being sacked if I don’t come in at short notice or work over my shift.”

“They pay me less than the hours I work.”

“We were told not to talk about trade unions with each other so it’s hard to get people to do stuff because they feel so intimidated. Lots of bullying going on too.”

“I’m paid under £9 an hour and I’m really struggling to pay my rent.”

“We’re now all working six days a week with double shifts, back to back. Start at 7am. Finish at 11pm.”

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