Hospitality and tourism workers protest at Stormont to demand a say in their sectors’ reopening

Socially-distanced protest set at Parliament Buildings today [July 21st at 1pm] to include attendance by workers in health and manufacturing

Members of Unite will hand in a letter to Economy Minister Diane Dodds demanding an urgent meeting on the need to secure jobs and skills

Unite the union, hospitality organiser, Neil Moore, explained that union members working in the hospitality and tourism sectors felt it was necessary to bring their demands to Stormont given the failure of politicians to listen to their voice. The action is part of a UK-wide week of action by hospitality & tourism workers.

“Unite has commissioned research which indicates that between ten and fifteen thousand hospitality workers in Northern Ireland face the threat of redundancy in the coming weeks.

“While nearly every whim of business owners have been central to the plans to reopen this industry – the voice of workers has been totally excluded. We have genuine concerns for safety and for our industry. 

“We are keen that opportunities to upskill workers who are currently furloughed have not been pursued. Instead, many workers on furlough are being now further abused by exploitative bosses and Unite have been made aware of very shady practices regarding use of the government’s Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme.

“Growing numbers of hospitality workers are asking themselves whether they want to stay in this industry – there’s a real concern for the future. Our survey of over 400 hospitality workers currently under threat of redundancy shows that 71% will not return to work in the sector if made redundant. This has serious implications for tourism and the economy as a whole. 

“We are organising a socially-distanced protest outside Stormont Parliament Buildings today [July 21st at 1pm] where hospitality and tourism workers will be joined by private and public sector workers who are there to show their solidarity. Whether you work in a factory or a hospital – you like to go out for a meal and enjoy yourself – hospitality workers are key to that. Other workers who are starting to go out and socialise again are asking us which bars and pubs have been decent to workers throughout this, they want to know where to avoid.

“Following our protest, we will present Minister Dodds with a letter demanding a meeting to discuss our concerns. Hospitality workers deserve to have their voices heard”, Mr Moore concluded.

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