Unite launches workers’ survey for hospitality and tourism

Former Ivy worker and Unite the Union Hospitality & Tourism Coordinator Julia Marciniak is today launching an online survey to gather and interpret working conditions and pay in the hospitality sector as many people return to work over the coming weeks.

The confidential survey will allow people to speak out about their working environment without fear of reprisal.

In launching the survey Marciniak said:

“Now more than ever good working practices, including health & safety regimes are vital in all workplaces especially those in direct contact with the general public. We hope that the findings of the survey will go a long way to both revealing and tackling the notoriously bad conditions and low pay that are synonymous with the sector.”

“As a worker in the tourism sector I have seen first-hand how appalling working conditions can be across the sector and across the country.  It took joining a trade union for myself and my work colleagues to win basic workplace facilities that had been denied to us for years.”

Branch secretary Karen Doyle who last year had to fight for toilet facilities at her place of work said:

“This sector is vital to our economy and those at the front of house are often ambassadors for our tourist industry.  It’s high time we recognised their skills and treated them with respect. Unfortunately that has not been the experience. We are encouraging people to take part in this survey so we can create a clear picture of how this sector has been operating and the effect it has on our lives.”

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Employers challenged to sign up to Unite’s Hospitality Charter as best means to attract workers and overcome staffing shortage

Neil Moore, Unite Hospitality

Unite the union to write to Hospitality businesses across Belfast area to request they sign up to raise the bar for workers

Hospitality Charter includes provisions such a Living Wage, guaranteed hours, action to challenge sexual harassment and trade union access

Unite’s Organiser for the Hospitality sector Neil Moore challenged Northern Ireland employers in the sector to ‘raise the bar’ on employment rights for all workers in the sector:

Employers in the hospitality sector in Northern Ireland are reporting a widespread shortage of workers to take on essential responsibilities. They have no one to blame for this situation other than themselves. During the Covid lockdown bosses laid off thousands of workers; many of those whoretained workers under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme told those unhappy at receiving a bare 80 percent of the disgracefully low minimum wage that they should get work elsewhere. Of course many did and discovered that working elsewhere, in many cases call centres, was much preferable to their treatment in the hospitality sector.

“Employers know what needs to be done to address the staffing crisis. They must treat their workers with respect, pay them decently and act on the pervasive abuse and sexual harassment which has been normalised in this industry.

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Hovis workers vote with a majority of 79 percent to accept latest, improved pay offer from management and end their 11 day strike action

Unite welcomes increased pay offer as decisive victory for workforce achieved through collective organisation and industrial militancy

Sean McKeever, Unite Regional Officer

Pay deal includes 8 percent increase over two years, with first increase backdated to January 2021, as well as LRA conducted industrial relations audit to address wider workforce issues of concern

Sean McKeever, Regional Officer for Unite confirmed that a vote conducted at mass, socially-distanced meeting at the Hovis’ Apollo Road site, members of both Unite and the Baker’s union voted overwhelmingly to accept the latest, improved pay offer from management and conclude their eleven day long strike action.

This result is a huge victory for these workers – a victory won through determined all-out strike action which extended to eleven days. I wish to congratulate our members and those of the Baker’s union for their stand and their unity in pursuit of the demand for a fair pay increase; this demonstrates the benefit of collective organisation and a preparedness to take militant industrial action. 

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Mass meeting of striking Hovis workers votes with a majority of 84 percent to reject ‘insulting’ pay offer from management

Latest rejection, amidst management provocations, confirms how Hovis bosses have once again underestimated their own workforce

Sean McKeever, Unite Regional Officer

Sean McKeever, Regional Officer for Unite reported that a vote conducted at mass, socially-distanced meeting at the Hovis’ Apollo Road site, striking members of both Unite and the Baker’s union voted overwhelmingly to reject as ‘insulting’ the company’s latest pay offer.

Our unions’ members are now into their ninth day of strike action to achieve pay justice but their determination to secure fair pay is only growing with time.

“The latest management pay offer of 8.4 percent over 30 months was accompanied by a challenge to the unions to put it to our members. So Unite and the Baker’s union organised a mass meeting of all our members outside the company’s Apollo road site and held a paper ballot on the offer.

“The result was an overwhelming rejection with a majority across both unions of 84 percent. The workers also agreed to send a message to management to not come back with any more insulting offers but instead deliver real pay justice. 

“Over the past twelve years, Hovis workers in Belfast have witnessed pay increases being outstripped by increases to the National Minimum Wage. These are skilled, experienced workers but that is not reflected in their pay. This is all part of the corporate race to the bottom where workers in Northern Ireland end up at the bottom of the pile.

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Right to picket during lockdown secured following Unite legal challenge

Striking Hovis workers welcome commitment by Department of Health to exempt picket lines from regulation

Jackie Pollock, Unite Regional Secretary

Three day amendment to Covid regulation reflects benefit of employment law being devolved in Northern Ireland

Jackie Pollock, Regional Secretary for Unite welcomed confirmation from the Department of Health that it had inserted an amendment into Covid-19 Health Protection regulations to exclude lawful picket lines. The amendment to the Regulations was inserted only three days after striking Hovis workers on a picket line were told by PSNI that their socially-distanced picket contravened lockdown rules.

Mr Pollock said, “This communication from the Department of Health will be welcomed by the striking Hovis workers who continue to picket their workplace in pursuit of pay justice.

“Unite and BFAWU members were holding a legal picket and abiding by social distancing rules last Monday when the PSNI told them and our officials that they were in contravention of the Covid Health Protection Regulations. We moved swiftly to challenge the Department of Health on this interpretation, which flew in the face of changes already made to the law in England, Wales and Scotland. It was unsustainable that Regulations could say it was okay for workers to work together inside a workplace but that a socially-distanced picket outside the gate was in contravention of lockdown rules.

“We welcome the speed of this announcement by the Department of Health. The fact that these Regulations could be amended within three days of our challenge demonstrates the value of having employment law a devolved matter in Northern Ireland”, Mr Pollock concluded.

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