Global hotel chain’s shareholders face protests over union rights and “living wage’

29 April 2014

Unite the union

The shareholders’ meeting of a top global hotel chain will be picketed this week over the failure to uniformly pay the London ‘living wage’  and for dragging its feet over access to trade union membership for its workforce.

The hotel workers’ branch of Unite, the country’s largest union, will be protesting outside the shareholders’ meeting of the Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) at the Park Lane Intercontinental Hotel W1J 7QY on Friday (2 May).

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

The previous day (Thursday 1 May) hotel workers will stage a demonstration outside the Holiday Inn, Kings Cross WC1X 9HX from noon to 12.30 – ahead of the International Labour May Day march and rally.

Unite is very concerned that – despite IHG being a signatory the UN global compact which commits them to supporting the principles of freedom of association and collective bargaining – some of its members working at the IHG’s eight managed hotels in London are fearful of revealing that they are union members because of the group’s perceived anti-union bias.

Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull said: “For the last five years, Unite has been attempting to engage with the IHG’s senior UK management over access to Intercontinental and Holiday Inn locations to explain the benefits of trade union membership to staff. But the company has refused to enter into a constructive dialogue.

“An access agreement would enable staff to make an informed decision on exercising their basic human rights to freedom of association and the establishment of collective bargaining as an alternative to the current company-controlled consultative arrangements.

“Despite the company’s ‘Room to be Yourself’ policy, which claims to support trade union rights, it would seem that there is, in fact, no room for unions when it comes to their London and UK workforce.”

Unite said that IHG was the first UK hotel chain two years ago to commit to the London ‘living wage – currently £8.80 an hour in the capital – for which it was commended

Dave Turnbull added: “However, two years on with the London ‘living wage at £8.80, there are still staff at these locations that are struggling to make ends meet on the national minimum wage of £6.31 an hour.

“Unite is simply asking IHG to apply the same standards as other global employers in the hospitality sector, such Compass and Sodexo, when it comes to equable and fair dealings with trade unions.”

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