Unite, which represents thousands of workers in the hotel sector, held socially distanced demonstrations today (26 April) outside the flagship hotels of Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) in Glasgow and Edinburgh in protest against mass fire and re-hire practices.
The action was part of a national day of action against ‘fire and re-hire’ which has been most prevalent within the hospitality sector.
IHG hit the headlines last year when they terminated 95 per cent of workers at Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow and The George in Edinburgh, citing closure of both hotels as the reasoning only to re-open a few weeks later offering ‘some’ workers their jobs back on short-hour contracts.
Despite repeated calls from Unite members at both hotels to use the Job Retention Scheme to retain workers, the multinational hotel chain dismissed all reasonable alternatives to compulsory redundancy. Instead, the IHG hotels terminated almost 500 workers on statutory minimum severance packages even using public money to pay the notice pay of minimum wage workers.
“As one of the largest and most profitable hotel chains in the world, IHG could and should have retained these workers using the Job Retention Scheme,” commented Unite hospitality organiser Bryan Simpson.
“Instead, they terminated 95 per cent of the workers at their two flagship hotels in Glasgow and Edinburgh. The company even had the front to use the furlough scheme to pay the notice pay of redundant workers. If that wasn’t morally reprehensible enough, they then invited some of these same workers back on reduced hours and wages.
“You would be forgiven for thinking that IHG used Covid as cover to restructure their two biggest hotels and to squeeze labour costs even more than they already had. This is why we will be taking responsible action outside these hotels, to send a message to this company that their treatment of workers will not be forgotten or allowed to happen again,” he added.
Jamie McCann, a former Receptionist at Grand Central Hotel told UNITElive, “Alongside almost 250 colleagues, I was terminated from my job as a receptionist at Voco Grand Central Hotel in September 2020, despite proposing multiple alternatives to avoid mass compulsory redundancy.
“In October, I was forwarded on an email from the Head of HR inviting some colleagues back to the hotel. I then saw an advert for my exact same job. Indeed. I applied for this job but was told they were no longer looking for front office staff. I believe our jobs could have been saved had the hotel used the Job Retention Scheme as intended or at least listened to our alternative proposals. Instead, I was terminated with less than £500 in severance package, mostly covered by the taxpayer.”
Stay tuned to UNITElive for the latest on the fire and rehire fight
By Andrew Brady