Unite has lodged a formal complaint to the United Nations Global Compact today (May 1) over the ‘unethical’ anti- trade union behaviour of the world’s fourth largest and richest hotel chain, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), in breach of its obligations under the UN’s international agreement.
The complaint includes a report, Unethical IHG, which details a decade of poor working practices and deliberate anti-trade union avoidance tactics across IHG’s UK hotel-estate, including housekeepers at a five star IHG-owned hotel being bullied, overworked, and then denied the right to have their grievance heard collectively.
IHG, which made $27.4bn last year, signed up to the UN Global Compact in 2009, committing to uphold its 10 principles including, principle 3; the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining – a move which helped secure its contract as the official hotel provider for the London Olympics in 2012.
Unite is now urging the UN Global Compact to step in after IHG management’s repeated backtracking on allowing Unite access to the group’s Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotels in London to speak to workers, distribute union materials and represent members over nearly a decade of on-off negotiations.
On Friday (3 May) fair hospitality campaigners from Unite will also be greeting shareholders at the group’s annual general meeting (AGM), with a call for the hotel operator to pay its UK staff the real living wage of £9 an hour (£10.55 an hour in London) and recognise the union.
The AGM is taking place at its flagship Intercontinental Park Lane, London W1J 7QY from 11am.
“Hotel staff at IHG branded properties, including Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza, are being bullied, overworked and underpaid. Their right to freedom of association and collective bargaining denied,” said Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull.
“This is according to a report, Unethical IHG, that Unite has submitted with a complaint to the UN Global Compact over breaches to principle 3; freedom of association and collective bargaining.
“Unite wants to see the UN Global Compact step up and defend the integrity of its corporate sustainability initiative. Companies need to understand that promoting and protecting human rights at work is more than just a box ticking exercise,” he added.
“The UN Global Compact has got to mean something. It’s got to be genuine. If it’s not, or companies are allowed to get away with picking and choosing the bits that suit, then the whole thing is devalued.
“When you have room attendants reporting a culture of fear and bullying, with one saying that she is ‘made to feel that I can’t do anything right’, as her manager regularly shouts and asks if ‘she can read properly.’ There is a problem. When union reps are then prevented from speaking up for these very same workers, there is an even bigger problem.
“IHG needs to be a global leader and start working with Unite to root out low pay, work insecurity, bullying and exploitation in its hotels. It’s only by working with the union and living up to its commitments that things can start to change in hospitality.”