As restrictions are lifted, hospitality workers’ concerns remain

Long-term sustainability of hospitality sector depends on improving working conditions

January 23rd: Trade union Unite, which represents hospitality workers throughout Ireland, today (Sunday) extended a cautious welcome to the Government’s decision to lift many Covid-19 restrictions on hospitality, but warned that the sector’s long-term sustainability depends on improving conditions for hospitality workers.  Representatives of the union’s Hospitality Branch met last week with the Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, to discuss the union’s concerns surrounding proposed ‘Tips’ theft legislation.

Commenting, Unite Hospitality Coordinator Julia Marciniak said:

“Unite’s research published last year, as well as extensive research conducted by Dr Deirdre Curran of NUIG, proves what hospitality workers have always known: abuses are widespread in the sector, ranging from low pay and precarious contracts to tip theft, non-adherence to legal rest break provisions, bullying and harassment.

“These abuses, and the consequent difficulties attracting and retaining workers, pre-dated Covid and they need to be addressed to make hospitality work an attractive option. 

“As Unite stressed when meeting the Tanaiste earlier this week, the issue of ‘tip theft’ is one that can be easily addressed by legally defining tips as gifts from the customer to their server. 

“Providing a legal right to collective bargaining would enable workers to organise collectively to address other abuses, including low pay and precarious working. 

The announcement that restrictions are to be lifted will obviously provide a short-term boost for the sector, but its long-term sustainability depends on boosting working conditions”, Ms Marciniak concluded.

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