Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union has urged hospitality bosses to ‘stop the sackings’ in light of today’s decision to cut the UK’s social distancing rule from 2m to 1m following intense industry lobbying for the change.

Responding to fears that up to a million hospitality workers could be out of work by August, Unite, which represents 60,000 workers in the sector, has issued warning litigation letters to IHG, Marriott, Millennium and Radisson Edwardian, some of the world’s biggest hotel chains, to warn that making mass redundancies, when JRS is still available could be unlawful.

The union has warned that it will not shy away from issuing more legal challenges.

Unite has strongly condemned hospitality employers for using the pandemic as an excuse to strip workers of their terms and conditions and to introduce worse contractual terms including unpaid lay off clauses, pay cuts, and zero hours contracts, in what is effectively a mass casualisation of the workforce.*

The union has warned that the industry risks a mass exodus of skilled workers after a straw poll of 400 Unite members working in hospitality and at risk of redundancy revealed that 71 per cent will not return to work in the industry if made redundant, and that 63 per cent would not recommend hospitality as a career choice for school leavers.

Unite, which is working with UKHospitality the industry association, on a potential joint approach to government to extend the scheme given the special circumstances of the sector, is calling on industry bosses to slow down and protect jobs and work with the union to keep workplaces safe.

Unite officer with responsibility for hospitality Dave Turnbull said: “It is appalling that as soon as the government announces that employers will need to start contributing to the job retention scheme (JRS) from August, we start seeing mass redundancy notices roll in.

 “One million hospitality workers could be thrown onto the scrapheap by August because of the industry’s knee-jerk and reckless reaction to the crisis, when what is needed is cool heads.

 “The industry has been saying for weeks now that reducing the social distancing rule from 2 to 1 metres would save a million workers from redundancy.

 “Now that the government has afforded this concession the redundancies must stop so that our members can continue to contribute to the revival of the country’s tourism and hospitality sector.

 “Hospitality bosses need to follow the good example set by companies such as Grosvenor Casinos and Stobbo Castle in Scotland and stop the sackings.

 “It’s time to work with the union to protect jobs and the UK’s fourth largest industry.”

 ENDS

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

Email: chantal.chegrinec@unitetheunion.org

 Note to editors:

*This was first highlighted by Unite at the GHL owned Hard Rock Hotel in April, after staff were forced to sign worse contracts as a condition of being furloughed.

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and protect incomes.

 Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey. 

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