Hospitality bosses cannot be allowed to leverage jobs threat to force unsafe reopening

nmWorkers call for no erosion of two-metre social distancing in the workplace as vital Infection control precaution

Opportunities for workforce up-skilling during COVID-shutdown must be explored as part of a new deal for hospitality workers 

Unite hospitality organiser Neil Moore challenged recent attempts by the NI Hotels Federation and Hospitality Ulster to blackmail the Northern Ireland Executive to bring forward reopening in the sector by threatening a wave of tens of thousands of redundancies.

Many hospitality bosses were quick to announce job losses and throw tens of thousands of workers under the bus at the beginning of this crisis. The ‘bumper year’ and record-breaking profits that preceded this crisis were built primarily on the backs of workers, often poorly-paid and precariously employed.

“With the wide-ranging government supports in place, there are no excuses for further job losses. Refusing to pay the additional 20 percent that is being sought by the Tory government and threatening tens of thousands of redundancies if they don’t get their way and reopen in July is nothing short of blackmail.

“Workers in hospitality must be protected by the Stormont Executive. Sector-specific support for hospitality should be made contingent on the protection of jobs and safe workplaces – furlough support payments should not be a handout to unscrupulous bosses.

“In recent days hospitality bosses have targeted the two metre social-distancing rule – a vital scientifically-based, infection control measure. There is no possible health-science basis for eroding this protection – it is a demand designed to increase profit at the cost of lives and must be resisted.”

Mr Moore presented Unite’s alternative vision for the sector,

“”With the input of hundreds of hospitality workers, Unite has developed a suite of proposals for a new deal for the sector across the UK. These include using the furlough period to up-skill through providing good quality training, accessing apprenticeship levy funding and a range of measures to ensure safety as facilities reopen. These measures must include testing and contact tracing, supply of appropriate PPE, meaningful engagement with employees, extensive Risk Assessments and their effective enforcement, and continuation of job supports – tied to job retention not redundancy.

“We are calling on the Northern Ireland Executive Ministers to hear the voice of hospitality workers who know what is needed, not just to guide the industry out of this crisis, but to ensure that we never again go back to poverty pay and insecure contracts that have left thousands in economic turmoil”, Neil Moore finished.

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