Unite the Union has urged employers in the hospitality sector to “stop the sackings” in light of yesterday’s decision to reduce the UK’s social distancing rule from 2m to 1m.
Unite, the UK’s largest trade union, has issued warning litigation letters to some of the world’s biggest hotel chains to advise them that making mass redundancies could be unlawful given that the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is still available.
Unite has sent the letters to IHG, Radisson Edwardian, Marriott and Millennium, and says it will not shy away from issuing more legal challenged as they respond to fears that up to a million workers in the hospitality sector could be out of work by August.
The union has strongly condemned employers in the hospitality sector for using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to strip their workers of their terms and conditions and to introduce worse terms such as unpaid lay off clause, pay cuts and zero-hours contracts.
Unite the Union has warned that the sector now risks a mass exodus of skilled and experienced workers after a straw poll of Unite members working in hospitality who are at risk of redundancy revealed that 71% would not return to work in the sector if they are made redundant. 63% said that they would not recommend hospitality as a career choice for school leavers.
The union is working with the industry association UKHospitality on a potential joint approach to the government to request an extension to the job retention scheme for the hospitality sector, given the special circumstances of the industry, and is calling on hotel bosses to slow down on redundancy action 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.