Stormont intervention urgently needed to support SP Graham workforce of 150 who face prospect of being laid off without pay as of close of business today

Sean SmythSP Graham’s management engage with Unite to charter a way forwards, despite total absence of support for workers in gambling sector

Help needed to enable businesses accessing support as bureaucratic hurdles are resulting in workers paying the price

Unite Regional Officer, Sean Smyth, called on the Northern Ireland Executive to extend business supports to the gambling sector after SP Graham management informed their workforce of one hundred and fifty that they would be laid-off without pay from today due to the Coronavirus crisis.

“The suspension of sporting fixtures globally in the face of the Coronavirus threat has dramatically impacted bookies across Northern Ireland. This morning SP Graham’s, where Unite represents the majority of the workforce of one hundred and fifty, wrote to their employees to tell them that they were no longer able to provide employment due to a severe cash-flow crisis. The workforce face the prospect of temporary unpaid lay-off, with no resumption date as of now, at the close of business today.

“We have engaged with management and they have assured us that they will pay out all accrued wages and this includes pay to date on April 2nd.

“SP Graham’s cannot access the support that has been provided to hospitality businesses and has too many outlets to be eligible for the funding offered to small businesses. As such, it is falling through the cracks of the emergency package offered by Stormont and the consequences are that their employees face the prospect of being thrown onto the dole queues at a time of crisis and uncertainty. Stormont has two weeks to get payments sorted for these workers.

“This is completely unacceptable especially when you compare the supports that are available to workers just ninety miles down the road in the Republic, which include immediate access to a weekly payment of 200 euro a worker. Like many other employers at this time, SP Grahams are engaging positively with Unite to charter a way forward and they have committed to us that 100 percent of any monies received from government will go to the workforce.

“The needs of workers in this sector must be recognised by the Northern Ireland Executive – that means urgent action to support them in this time of crisis. The Executive must also address the bureaucracy that is making it difficult for businesses to access help – with dire consequences for the workers they employ”, Mr Smyth said.

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