Unite has today (October 10) hailed the decision by WGC, the UK’s leading supplier of outsourced hospitality and housekeeping services, to abolish zero hours contracts as a major step forward for workers and is calling on the UK hotel industry to follow its lead and work with the union.
More than 5,000 workers employed as housekeepers, room attendants and porters in hotels up and down the country working under WGC hotel sector contracts, will be offered the opportunity to move to a guaranteed minimum hour contract from November 1, 2017.
The good news comes as Unite teams up with the International union of food workers, and unions from around the world to mark Global Hotel Housekeepers week from October 9 to 14 – a worldwide campaign for dignity and safe work for hotel housekeepers.
Unite warmly welcomes WGC’s commitment to work with the union to strengthen workers’ rights and develop training and educational opportunities, including the launch of jointly sponsored English language lessons for its migrant workforce.
The union is working on rolling out similar joint partnership initiatives with other hospitality service providers, as well as a top global hotel chain, in a bid to improve conditions and job prospects in hotel housekeeping departments.
“WGC’s decision to abolish zero hours contracts shows that improving working conditions and security for UK hotel workers can be done,” said Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull. “Now we need the rest of the industry to follow its lead.
“The issue of guaranteed hours was something we had been raising with WGC for some time on behalf of our members and addressing this is one of the joint aims of the agreement we signed with the company. We therefore welcome the positive strides WGC is taking to address matters such as this.
“Its decision to ban zero hours contracts along with the creation of joint union/company forums and the launch of jointly sponsored English language lessons for migrant workers within WGC, shows that when unions and employers work together constructively within this sector, workers and business benefit.”
Martin Birch, chief executive officer at WGC added, “I am personally committed to ensuring all our team members feel reassured in their employment with WGC and that we continue to lead the industry in employee rights, training and real career development opportunities.
“The abolishment of zero hours contracts is a huge stride toward this goal. As a proud member of the Ethical Trading Initiative and close partner of Unite the union, we continue, as we have always done, to place a keen focus on supporting and furthering our teams, their families and the wider communities we work in.”
Unite has raised serious concerns over the exploitation of housekeeping staff because of the ‘race to the bottom’ business model used by global hotel chains, where tenders are based on the minimum wage and contractors are expected to invoice by the number of rooms cleaned, rather than the number of workers employed and hours worked.
With Brexit looming hotel chains must wake up to the need to have in place non- exploitative terms and conditions which will ensure they can recruit and retain quality staff.