Climate conference in Glasgow should be catalyst for global hotel group reset on employment rights
- Wednesday 5 May 2021
Global hotel chain IHG’s annual meeting on Friday (7 May) should act as a catalyst for a new chapter in employment rights for its staff, especially as the world’s spotlight will be on Glasgow, where IHG has hotels, for the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26).
Unite the union called on IHG bosses ‘to do the right thing’ in the run-up to COP26 (1-12 November), after they terminated the employment of more than 300 workers at its two prestige Glasgow hotels Grand Central and The Blythswood.
Unite organiser Bryan Simpson said: “As one of the largest and most profitable hotel chains in the world, Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) could and should have retained these workers using the job retention scheme (JRS).
“Instead, they terminated over 300 workers at their two Glasgow flagships Grand Central and The Blythswood - using the furlough scheme to pay the notice pay of redundant workers. If that wasn’t morally reprehensible enough, they then invited some workers back on reduced hours and wages.
“This is hardly becoming of a hotel chain which hopes to profit from an international conference founded on progressive values which they refuse to uphold.
“We would urge IHG to right these wrongs by endorsing our Fair Hospitality Charter which would improve the wages, conditions and morale of their workers/our members.”
Unite national officer for hospitality Dave Turnbull said: “During the 2012 London Olympics the company promised to demonstrate its commitment to the principles of the UN compact by phasing in the real living wage and allowing trade union access to its hotels.
“It ultimately broke both those promises, resulting in a formal complaint by Unite to the UN Global Compact itself. The fact that Glasgow will host a major United Nations conference provides IHG with an ideal platform to right those wrongs in that city and ultimately change its ways across the rest of the UK.”
The company, which operates the iconic Holiday Inn brand and other high profile brands, has been a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact on human rights since 2009, but is accused by Unite of over a decade of union avoidance and abuses of workers’ rights.
More recently, it has been highlighted as engaging in the unethical practices associated with ‘fire and rehire’ in response to the Covid crisis.
Jamie McCann, former receptionist at Grand Central Hotel, said: “Alongside almost 250 colleagues, I was terminated from my job as a receptionist at Voco Grand Central Hotel in September 2020, despite proposing multiple alternatives to avoid mass compulsory redundancy.
“In October, I was forwarded on an email from the head of HR inviting some colleagues back to the hotel. I then saw an advert for my exact same job. Indeed, I applied for this job, but was told they were no longer looking for front office staff.
“I believe our jobs could have been saved had the hotel used the job retention scheme as intended or, at least, listened to our alternative proposals. Instead, I was terminated with less than £500 in severance package, mostly covered by the taxpayer.”
Notes to editors:
Unite took part in responsible direct action outside IHG hotels on 26th April as part of their campaign against Fire and Re-hire:
Unite has launched a hospitality rescue plan which provides a roadmap of what support is needed to get the sector back on its feet.
About Unite Hospitality
Unite Hospitality is the only trade union campaign specifically designed to support workers in hotels, bars, restaurants, cafes and casinos. We aim to give hospitality workers the legal knowledge, organising skills and collective confidence to transform the hospitality industry for the benefit of the workers who drive it.
The Fair Hospitality Charter calls on employers to do 10 things:
- Pay the real living wage
- Paid rest breaks
- Equal pay for young workers
- Minimum hour contracts (no-zero hour contracts)
- End unpaid trial shifts
- Implement pro-active sexual harassment policy
- Paid transport after 12 am
- Consult on rota changes
- 100 per cent tips to staff
- Allow relevant trade union access
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on: 020 3371 2065.
Please note the numbers above are for journalists’ enquiries only.
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.