In response to Brexit labour supply pressures, employers must move to make hospitality and tourism attractive sectors for young workers
Unite Hospitality Campaign Coordinator, Neil Moore, criticised the UK government’s new hard-right migration controls but also challenged Northern Ireland employers in the hospitality, retail and tourism sectors to respond to the challenge of unfilled vacancies by making jobs more attractive to young people through increasing pay and working conditions.
“Both Hospitality Ulster and the NI Retail Consortium have rightly challenged the Conservative government on the harsh, right-wing system of migration controls that they are seeking to impose post-Brexit. These controls will result in significant labour shortages in the hospitality, tourism, retail and food and drink sectors and pose particular problems in Northern Ireland. It is clear that the government of Boris Johnson is pursuing an increasingly right-wing course: to divert attention away from continued austerity and falling standards of living with divisive migration policies.
“Instead of responding to this by seeking to compete in the race-to-the-bottom on wages and terms and conditions, bosses here should make their sectors more attractive to young entrants. This is a hugely profitable industry – they need to use those profits to pay more, improve working conditions and end exploitative contractual forms”, Mr Moore said.
Chair of the Belfast Hospitality branch of Unite the union Rory Conway, himself a hospitality worker, challenged the employers’ consortiums on their approach:
“Instead of lobbying to lower income thresholds or win a special ‘poverty pay’ dispensation for Northern Ireland hospitality or tourism, employers here should seek to make their workplaces somewhere people want to work. That means paying a living income, offering their workers a work-life balance, permanent and secure contracts of employment. It means ending tips and punitive wage deductions and adopting a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace. Hospitality isn’t a low-skilled sector, workers in hospitality are professionals and take a real pride in our work. Bosses shouldn’t seek to bypass Tory migration controls through lowering the bar further, instead they should raise the bar for all workers, domestic and overseas”, Mr Conway concluded.