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‘Wage theft’

Exploitative hospitality work practices revealed to MPs
Alex Flynn, Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

Macdonald Hotels stand accused of ‘wage theft’ today (October 31) in explosive evidence to the House of Commons Scottish Affairs select committee’s inquiry into sustainable employment by Unite.


Giving evidence to MPs today, Unite’s officer for the hospitality industry in Scotland Bryan Simpson, warned that the hotel chain could be in breach of the minimum wage because salaried workers are regularly having to work over 20 hours in unpaid overtime.


Simpson, who is also the national organiser for the Better than Zero campaign, highlighted pitiful pay rates in the hospitality sector and how Glasgow based night club and pub firm, G1 group, deduct tips from staff to cover for breakages, spillages and customers running off without paying the bill.


Unite has launched a Fair Hospitality charter demanding a series of reforms needed to transform the sector for the benefit of employees and customers. Demands include the real living wage (£8.45 an hour), an end to discriminatory youth wage rates and stricter anti-sexual harassment policies for the workplace.


“The hospitality sector is one of the lowest paid and most precarious industries for workers, with more than 70 per cent earning less than the living wage and a quarter of all employers within the industry using zero hours contracts. This is almost three times larger than the national average,” said Simpson.


“Within the industry hotel workers are the lowest paid with a median income 50 pence less than the so called national living wage of £7.50 per hour.


“Added to that, you have a massive problem of unpaid overtime in hotels with salaried workers at Macdonald Hotels regularly having to work an extra 20 hours a week unpaid.


“This is tantamount to wage theft and could be in breach of minimum wage regulations, especially when you consider that one member of staff at the chain’s flagship resort in Aviemore is owed more than 500 hours.”


On G1 Group Bryan Simpson added, “The bar industry in Scotland continues to be dominated by G1 Group. In 2015 it was fined £45,124 by HMRC for failing to pay the minimum wage to 2,895 workers.


“We are aware that it continues to use unpaid trial shifts at many of its venues and deducts hard-earned tips for breakages, spillages and customers leaving without paying the bill.


“In one particular incident at The Social in Glasgow we understand one worker was docked all of their tips and had to withdraw £90 from the cash machine to cover a group of customers who walked out without paying the bill.


“These exploitative practices within the hospitality sector have to end. Unite has launched the ‘Fair Hospitality’ campaign in a bid to transform the sector for the better, by equipping workers with the knowledge they need about their rights at work, as well as instilling a collective confidence to challenge bad employers.”


The evidence session can be viewed here.


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