London hotels need ‘to be weaned off addiction to low pay’

7 August 2013

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London’s hotel and hospitality industries should pay its thousands of staff the ‘living wage’, Unite, the country’s largest union, has said in its submission to the Greater London Authority (GLA).

To highlight its submission to the GLA’s probe into the ‘living wage’ in the capital, Unite hospitality members will be staging a protest outside the Hilton hotel at 5 More, London Place, Tooley Street, London SE1 2BY between 17.00-18.00 on Thursday (8 August).

Unite will then present its submission Hopelessly Addicted to Low Pay at the nearby city hall, calling for the hospitality and hotel industries to pay the London living wage of £8.55 an hour.

The Unite’s submission said: “There are currently no employers within London’s hospitality sector who independently endorse and pay their employees the London ‘living wage’.

“Many of our members are forced to live on little more than the national minimum wage (currently £6.19p an hour). Many report suffering pay freezes, pay cuts and constant attacks on their terms and conditions of employment.”

Unite points out that last month London mayor Boris Johnson’s office welcomed the 4.2 per cent increase – to 3.4 million – in the number of overseas visitors for the first quarter of 2013, compared with the same period last year.

Unite said that without the positive impact of its hotel, restaurant, hospitality and catering members ‘London would simply not be enjoying the record numbers of return visitors it is currently enjoying’.

Unite said that it was ‘entirely realistic and feasible’ for the ‘living wage’ to become the norm within the hospitality sector by 2020.

Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull said: We believe that the ‘living wage’ would have a positive impact on the problems of high staff turnover and skill shortages that have plagued the sector for decades. It should not be forgotten that tourism/hospitality is the UK’s fourth biggest industry.

“The adoption of the ‘living wage’ would enhance London’s reputation as a world class tourist destination fit for the 21st century.”

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