Unite targets top global hotel chain over anti-union actions

Unite targets top global hotel chain over anti-union actions

04 May 2017

Unite, Britain’s biggest union, is taking its grievances over the anti-union tactics of a top global hotel chain directly to shareholders attending the company’s annual general meeting (AGM) tomorrow (Friday 5 May).

Hotel workers, members of Unite, will be protesting outside the shareholders’ meeting of the Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG), owners of Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza, at the Intercontinental Hotel in London’s Park Lane W1J 7Q7 tomorrow (Friday 5 May), from 09.30.

In a strongly worded letter to the company CEO, Richard Solomons, Unite has accused IHG of a ‘chronology of evasion, union avoidance, breaking of promises and unilateral withdrawal from union access agreements entered into by Unite in good faith.’

Warning that its conduct constitutes a flagrant breach of its commitments, Unite has served notice of its intention ‘to make formal representations and complaints to the United Nations (UN) Global Compact’, were it will cite ‘various breaches of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidelines for multinational enterprises around freedom of association and collective bargaining.’

IHG became a full signatory to the UN Global Compact in 2009, which commits it to supporting the principles freedom of association, including the right to form and join a trade union, as well as collective bargaining. 

Unite is also deeply disappointed by the company’s failure to deliver its 2012 public pledge to phase in the London Living Wage, currently £9.75 an hour, over a five year period. Despite receiving a huge amount of media attention at the time, the pay up lift has failed to materialise. 

Unite national officer, Rhys McCarthy said: “For the last eight years Unite has been trying to engage with IHG’s senior management team to secure union access to Intercontinental and Holiday Inn locations to explain the benefits of trade union membership to staff. Throughout this period it’s been nothing, but false starts and broken promises. 

“A union access agreement is fully in line with the UN Global Compact guidelines, it would enable staff to understand and make informed decisions around their basic human rights to freedom of association and to collectively bargain. 

“IHG’s deliberate foot dragging over delivering on its pledge to pay staff the real London Living Wage, and its shoddy dealings with Unite shows an open hostility to trade unions in the UK.  Actions like these are a major contributing factor to the anti-trade union climate that has sadly prevailed in the UK hospitality sector for decades now. 

“Unite is simply asking IHG to live up to its global commitments and start respecting workers’ rights. It needs to work with us to change and improve the way it operates. The industry needs to ditch its broken and morally bankrupt business model which relies on cheap labour and exploitative practices. It’s time for change.”

The protest comes a day after a similar action by Unite members outside the flagship Premier Inn in London’s Leicester Square to expose the anti-union actions of hospitality giant, owner Whitbread.

The shareholders’ meeting starts at 11.00 – and the Unite protesters plan to be outside the hotel from 09.30 to 11.00. 


For more information please contact, Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec on 07774146777 

Note to editors:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey