Unite, which represents thousands of workers in the hospitality and hotel sector, is warning that the government’s plans to introduce quarantine hotels must not risk the health of the workers in these facilities.
Unite issued its warning after the latest Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures revealed that several groups of hospitality workers have been found to be at greatest risk of dying from Covid-19.
Among pub managers, there have been a shocking 219 deaths from Covid-19 per 100,000, while for chefs, the death rate per 100,000 stands at 103. The death rate for restaurant workers as a whole was 119 per 100,000.
This is compared to an average across all occupations of 24 deaths per 100,000.
Unite believes that the high toll of hospitality deaths is a result of a toxic combination of insufficient sick pay, unscrupulous employment practices, a failure to maintain social distancing and a lack of PPE.
Unite will be launching a campaign to ensure that all quarantine hotels are Covid secure and that there is an awareness that staff are equally at risk of contracting Covid from each other as they are from the hotel’s guests.
Unite is encouraging its members to report and challenge breaches of health and safety. The union has launched the Make My Workplace Safe website which allows workers to report health and safety breaches and organise around their concerns.
As part of the broader campaign for quarantine hotels, Unite is calling on them to pay workers in full, if they contract Covid-19 or if they are required to self-isolate. Hospitality workers have repeatedly stated that it is impossible to self-isolate when you only receiving statutory sick pay (SSP) of £95 a week.
Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said, “Once again it appears that the government is more interested in chasing headlines then considering the welfare of workers.
“It is all very well announcing that you are creating quarantine hotels but the government also has a strict duty of care to ensure that workers in these facilities are safe and the hotels are completely Covid secure.
“Far too many workers have already died in the hospitality sector and it would be absolutely shameful if stringent rules are not in place ensuring workers’ safety before the doors open to any quarantine hotel,” he added.
“As a minimum requirement, to acknowledge the risks involved, the government should ensure that any hotels selected for this work, undertake to pay workers in full if they are required to self-isolate or develop Covid-19.”
Unite hospitality organiser Bryan Simpson added, “The use of quarantine hotels may seem like a quick fix for the government in a desperate attempt to contain the spread of Covid 19.
“Yet our members in the hotel sector are fearful that they may be put at increased risk without comprehensive protections being in place.
“Every quarantine hotel must be entirely Covid secure, a requirement which ensures that the guests and all the hotel staff are able to socially distance at all times and that other Covid measures are also rigorously applied,” Simpson went on to say.
“The Make My Workplace Safe website is a crucial tool where workers are able to record health and safety breaches and allows them to take collective action to improve workplace safety.”
By Barckley Sumner