London mayor, Sadiq Khan has been urged to put his ‘economic fairness’ pledge to the top of the agenda by tackling the exploitative work practices in London’s multi-billion pound hotel industry by Unite, Britain’s biggest union.
Unite, has written to Sadiq Khan and all members of the London Assembly calling for bold leadership and the adoption of ‘city-wide principles’ to deal with the low cost, exploitative business model used by global hotel chains. The sector employs an estimated 100,000 people in the capital.
The call comes as the British Hospitality Association (BHA) holds its Big Hospitality Conversation event at city hall on Monday (10 October) to promote hospitality as a career choice, especially for young people.
In the letter, which includes copies of Unite’s study into the capital’s hotel sector, entitled Unethical London, assembly members are urged to push for the adoption of the union’s ‘city-wide principles’, based on the key provisions of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidelines, the Ethical Trading Initiative base code and the United Nations Global Compact.
The report shows that behind the public face of London’s booming tourism industry is a hidden army of low paid workers, where low pay, excessive working hours, zero hours contracts and open hostility to trade unions have become standard practice.
Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull said: “The BHA says that a good conversation can lead to good things. Well, it needs to start listening to our members, the hidden army of cleaners, porters, receptionists and room attendants who have painted a very bleak picture of working conditions in London’s hotels.
“The reality is that the hotel industry is failing its 100,000 strong-workforce. Low pay, insecure working, exploitation and institutionalised bullying are rife. It cannot recruit and retain the type of workers it needs based on its flawed, low cost and exploitative business model.
“Workers must be part of the real conversation which needs to take place within hospitality. Strong trade unions and respect from employers for the human right of freedom of association must be at the heart of this.
“We are calling on the mayor and London Assembly members from all four parties to get behind our city wide principle initiative, to put pressure on the global chains to start engaging with Unite. A truly ethical capital city and successful hospitality sector can only be built on respect.”
Unethical London, written by members of Unite's rapidly growing and increasingly vocal hospitality sector, exposes the low pay and exploitative work practices in London’s multi-billion pound hotel sector, using the stories of London’s mainly migrant hotel workers in their own words.
The hospitality sector is the UK’s fourth largest employer, representing 10 per cent of the UK workforce. The average room price is £160 per night, up 7.3 per cent in the last year.