Unite: Govt must ‘step up to the plate’

Hospitality workers invite tourism minister to hear what’s really happening

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Tourism minister, Nigel Huddleston MP, is being invited to join London’s hospitality workers at their socially distanced Save our Jobs demo outside the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on Tuesday July 21, to find out first-hand the effects the Covid-19 pandemic has had on them and their livelihoods.

The demo comes with Unite, the union representing the workers, warning that the knee-jerk, mass redundancies sweeping the sector are storing up a skills shortage crisis for the future.

At midday workers from the capital’s hotels and restaurants, wearing face coverings and in uniform, will hand in a letter to the tourism minister asking for a more formal video conference meeting to talk about the challenges facing the sector from a worker’s perspective.

Unite is urging the government and industry’s major employers to step up to the plate and act responsibly to save jobs, invest in skills and employee development programmes through the creation of more sustainable business models.

Unite’s key demands on government include: extension of the job retention scheme with sector specific flexibilities for hospitality; specific measures to protect the jobs of over 25s, instead of the focus being exclusively on allowing employers to access schemes for under 25s, which is open to abuse; national Living Wage increased to £10 an age with no age restrictions; government to finally legislate to give workers 100 per cent of tips and service charge payments, as promised in October 2019; creation of sustainable business models with a focus on retaining and upskilling staff.

“We are urging the tourism minister to come and meet with hospitality workers to talk about the effects the Covid-19 pandemic has had on them and their families first-hand,” explained Dave Turnbull Unite national officer for hospitality.

“Workers in the nation’s restaurants, pubs, bars and hotels have faced months of uncertainty due to the state-imposed lockdown. Now if their pay and terms and conditions aren’t being slashed, the mass redundancies sweeping the sector are threatening to throw tens of thousands of them onto the scrap heap.

“We need the government and the industry’s major employers to step up to the plate and act responsibly to save the UK hospitality sector with measures designed to save people’s jobs and develop their skills,” he added.

Unite believes the Chancellor’s emergency budget, including the £10 a head meal deal, VAT cut and £1,000 job retention bonus has offered a glimmer of hope to the industry, but it’s not enough.

Turnbull continued, “It is shameful that some of the world’s wealthiest hotel chains from Holiday Inn owner, IHG, to the luxury Marriot and Millennium have happily pocketed millions from the government’s furlough scheme, only to shed thousands of jobs as soon as they are asked to make national insurance and pension contributions again.

“The government must now demand that hospitality bosses do more for its workforce, stop the redundancies and attacks on pay, terms and conditions in exchange for an extension to the job retention scheme.”

By Chantal Chegrinec

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