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Unite serves notice on London’s ‘unethical’ hotel sector

JANUARY 21, 2020

Global hotel chains stand accused of making London one of the most ‘unethical' tourist destinations in the world by its own workforce in a hard hitting report launched by Unite, Britain's biggest union.

Unethical London, written by Unite, exposes the low pay and exploitative work practices that have been allowed to flourish unchecked in the multi-billion hotel industry, using the stories of London’s mainly migrant hotel workers in their own words. 

To mark the launch of the report, Unite hotel worker members will stage a series of protests on Tuesday 23 August, starting on the South Bank near the London Eye from 17:00 before moving to the Whitbread owned Premier Inn, County Hall, SE1 7PB.

The report shows that, despite many being signatories to various ethical social responsibility agreements, big name hotel chains, including Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) and Hilton are only paying lip service to workers’ basic human and trade union rights. 

Unite is therefore calling on all hotels operating in London to adopt a set of ‘City Wide Principles’, based on the key provisions of the OECD guidelines, the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code and the United Nations Global Compact. 

A snapshot of report findings:

•    90 per cent of housekeeping staff surveyed said they were in constant pain caused by their job.
•    84 per cent of housekeeping staff surveyed said they suffer from back pain
•    53 per cent of front of house surveyed staff frequently miss meal and rest breaks because of workload and staff shortages
•    78 per cent of chefs surveyed have had a ‘near miss’ or accident at work due to feeling overtired 

About 100,000 people work in London’s hotel sector, which includes small boutique hotels but also large global chains such as Hilton, InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) and Marriott. The average room price is £160 per night, up 7.3 per cent in the last year. 

Read Unite's Unethical London report into the London hotel sector here.

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