Disgraceful Assembly debate on licensing hours extension confirms Stormont Executive does not prioritise needs of hospitality workers

Neil Moore, Unite hospitality organiser

Amendments to include protections for bar and hospitality workers are ruled out of order by Assembly chair

Commenting on today’s Assembly debate on the Licensing and Registration of Clubs (Amendment) Bill, Neil Moore, Hospitality Organiser for Unite the Union said: 

“As the trade union for hospitality workers in Northern Ireland, Unite is very concerned that not one of the amendments discussed by the Assembly mentions the concerns of workers. It is hospitality workers who will have to deal with the consequences of the Executive’s significant and much-needed shakeup of licensing regulations. 

“Unite the union made representation to Stormont’s Communities Committee earlier this year when we raised concerns that the proposed extension to drinking-up time, alongside an extension to licensed hours, would see many workers finishing work a full ninety minutes later on nights where licensed hours are extended, reducing already unacceptable rest periods. 

“With any extension in trading times and increased opportunities for business turnover and trade, it is vital that workers’ rights be extended. We need to see the right to safe transport home and additional pay to compensate workers for anti-social hours. 

“Amendments to the bill supported by Unite Hospitality, to legislate workers’ rights were disgracefully not allowed to proceed to debate or be voted on by the Speakers’ office. With the Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey giving excuses that the rights of the hospitality workers most directly affected by the bill are outside its scope. This is a disgraceful position to take, particularly considering that the rights and interests of local residents and other stakeholders are clearly considered within the scope of this legislation.

Once again by their unwillingness to take any actions which might cut across the interest of profit, Stormont has demonstrated that the needs and interests of hospitality workers are not a priority. Unite would urge any hospitality workers not already in a union to join Unite as the best and only means to protect themselves from the facilitative, big business agenda of the Stormont Executive”, Mr Moore said.

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