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To: NI Executive, MLAs and MPs

Don't Throw Hospitality Workers Under the Bus!

Don't Throw Hospitality Workers Under the Bus!

The COVID19 crisis has had a devastating impact on workers in hospitality & tourism. Unite the Union estimates that while one in eight jobs in the sector have already been lost; one in six of those who remain could lose their jobs in the next six months as businesses warn of up to 40,000 job losses as they are set to fail given lockdown measures and further restrictions on the hospitality sector.

With the Job Retention Scheme coming to an end in a matter of days and the replacement Job “Support” Scheme being unfit for purpose. The reality for many many workers will be redundancy, unpaid lay-offs or having to survive on just 67% of already unacceptably low wages - leaving workers on just £5.81 an hour, with young workers under 25 on considerably less. This comes after many have spent most of the year on 80% of what could already be considered to be poverty pay.

Adding to this the prevalence of precarious, zero-hour contracts and the limited employment rights and protections they offer left many hospitality & tourism workers out of work during the first lockdown in March and facing the same prospect just over six months later.

Unite is therefore calling upon Stormont to:

• Extend the flexible furlough scheme to hospitality & tourism sector immediately to avoid further job losses. Wage supports must be provided to ensure workers receive their full wage.

• Make additional supports for businesses available on the condition that employers provide secure contracts with a guaranteed minimum and maximum number of hours to all workers on their payroll within the last three months and retain jobs.

• Bring an end to exploitative practices such as zero-hour contracts and fire & rehire so precarious workers no longer have to worry about being kicked out the door at the first sign of future crises.

• Implement Unite’s ‘Hospitality Rescue Plan’ in NI and push the Westminster government to provide the necessary funding to do so

Stormont MLAs must push the NI Executive to act and bring forward an emergency package of supports targetted at workers and not just bosses. The NI Executive must show leadership and stand up to those in Westminster who speak about protecting the economy without willing to make the money available to do so. NI MPs should support these additional measures and the Hospitality rescue package as put forward by Unite to save the sector and protect workers, our jobs and livelihoods in this crisis situation.

Why is this important?

With the Job Retention Scheme coming to an end in a matter of days alongside another closure of our industry, we are demanding that Stormont, Westminster and unscrupulous employers own up to their criminal mismanagement of this pandemic and stop throwing hospitality workers under the bus to cover for their mistakes.

Public health should come before all else. Any restrictions should be clear, consistent and evidence-based - rather than half-baked. When closures are announced, supports must be put in place for workers before they are implemented.

Our livelihoods are at risk not only as a result of restrictions but because widespread use of precarious and zero-hour contracts and the limited employment rights they bestow upon us. Hospitality workers were laid off in our thousands at the first sign of crisis. We were then rehired on 80% of our wage, just to now be kicked on the dump heap once more. More and more employers are engaging in knee-jerk redundancies and plans to fire and rehire workers to degrade their employment rights and entitlements.

Reports from our Trade Unions and the Low Pay Commission already demonstrated how the current minimum wage amounts to an inescapable cycle of poverty. Even before Covid, hospitality workers were speaking out about their struggles to make ends meet. Then, we were expected to get by on only 80% of that measly amount. Now, we are somehow expected to survive on only 67% or 73%. For some, that is as low as £4.30 per hour. This is not good enough - our landlords won't accept two-thirds of our rent, and our electricity providers accept us only paying 67% of our bills. With the winter coming in many of us may now have to make the call; do I pay the bills, heat the house, or have a Christmas?

Let’s face the facts: workers in the industry can't survive without being guaranteed 100% of our wages. Without such a guarantee, the industry will rapidly haemorrhage incredibly talented and highly skilled workers who will be forced to look for work in other industries. Unite the Union estimates that while one in eight jobs in the sector have already been lost; one in six of those who remain could lose their jobs in the next six months as businesses warn of up to 40,000 job losses as they are set to fail given lockdown measures and further restrictions on the hospitality sector. Whilst hospitality workers understand that this pandemic needs urgent action to prevent transmission spiralling out of control, our jobs and livelihoods should not be sacrificed in order to do so.

Politicians at Stormont have frequently expressed how important the hospitality and tourism sector is to the Northern Irish Economy. Now it is time for them to put their money where their mouth is and provide support for us after we have been providing for everyone else for so long. We have kept key workers fed and watered throughout these tough months - we put ourselves on the line so others could enjoy moments of respite in our bars, cafes and restaurants - and we have time and time again given up our own holidays to make yours special.

All we are asking for in return is an income we can survive on, and working conditions that ensure our future stability. Please sign this petition and support workers in hospitality & tourism.

Northern Ireland, UK

Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL


Reasons for signing

  • Because I've lost my job I'm hospitality
  • Well because I only started a job in the hospitality sector because of the recent lockdown I lost my job as I didn't qualify for the furlough scheme. When government says he help all workers if the company supports them.
  • Stormont ministers are a disgrace. Nuff said.

Updates

2020-10-28 18:48:45 +0000

Fantastic support so far! Check out our Hospitality Rescue Plan which we need the politicians to speak up for and implement being launched on our Facebook - Unite Hospitality NI at 7pm tonight

https://scontent-lhr8-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/122149777_1228850040847979_6062001095972470116_n.jpg?_nc_cat=111&ccb=2&_nc_sid=110474&_nc_ohc=eamfvnuq21MAX_aFvPG&_nc_ht=scontent-lhr8-1.xx&oh=92e6abda1cfd900badbfc3d9fdc198d6&oe=5FC02A5C

2020-10-22 17:19:02 +0100

100 signatures reached

2020-10-22 14:38:24 +0100

50 signatures reached

2020-10-22 13:33:56 +0100

25 signatures reached

2020-10-22 13:18:35 +0100

10 signatures reached