Thousands of hospitality workers laid off in last twenty-four hours with thousands more facing jobs threat

Living Wage meetSome of the biggest names in Northern Ireland hospitality close their doors in face of Coronavirus downturn leaving thousands of workers facing destitution

A week after Unite opened a survey of its members in the hospitality sector the results obtained from 600 workers who had participated confirmed their fears in the face of the Coronavirus threat.

Unite Hospitality Organiser, Neil Moore, called on Stormont Ministers to step forward with real commitments to workers in the sector.

“More than six hundred hospitality workers completed Unite’s survey in the last seven days and the results are particularly concerning in light of yesterday’s announcements of mass job-losses across the sector.

“Hospitality workers were overwhelmingly more fearful of the financial consequences of the Covid-19 virus than they were its health implications. Almost four in every five hospitality workers (78 percent) said that they were worried that couldn’t pay household bills and cover living costs as a result and 68 percent said they were worried that it would reduce their income – that compared to only 42 percent who said they were worried about becoming ill from the virus.

“Workers indicated that few businesses had taken any steps to reduce risks from the virus. Fewer than two-thirds (59 percent) reported that their employer had improved hygiene and only 42 percent said that hand washing and sanitising facilities had been provided while 38 percent said that workers’ hours had been cut as a means to reduce risks.

“The thousands of hospitality workers who have already lost their jobs or been laid-off in companies like Beannchor are likely to be joined by thousands more in coming days. The consequences of unpaid layoffs are particularly brutal for student-workers who can’t claim any benefits. While over a third of the sector, employed on zero-hour contracts face difficulty claiming benefits and are likely to get only a small fraction of the meagre £29 a day statutory guarantee payment – which itself only lasts for five days.

“At a time of serious concerns around the spread of the Coronavirus, young workers are being failed by the inaction of the political leaders. They face being thrown into destitution as the hospitality sector collapses in a near free-for-all in the face of the Coronavirus downturn”, Mr Moore said.

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