More than 7,000 people working in hospitality across Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough and East Northants are facing job uncertainty during the coronavirus lockdown.
People working in restaurants, bars, and hotels are facing unemployment and uncertainty despite the government’s job retention scheme, a trade union has warned.
The union Unite has warned that some companies are choosing to lay staff off despite Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s multi-billion-pound measures to support jobs.
‘Never more than a pay cheque away from the breadline’
Official Labour Market statistics show there are 7,105 people in Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough and East Northants working in hospitality.
Kettering has the most hospitality workers, with 2,620 jobs.
East Northants, Wellingborough and Corby all had between 1,200 to 1,750 people working in restaurants, bars, hotels and other hospitality businesses.
Unite’s national officer for hospitality, Dave Turnbull, said: “These figures show just how many people rely on the hospitality industry for employment."
He warned that many workers in the sector, an estimated 2m people across the UK, are “never more than a pay cheque away from the breadline”.
Mr Turnbull said the union was already coming across examples of businesses which had decided to lay staff off rather than place them on furlough under the Government’s scheme.
And he said there was “no excuse for companies not to join the scheme and so protect their workforces”.
“For bosses that don’t rehire fired staff or refuse to sign up to the job retention scheme, Unite’s message is clear: We will expose you, we challenge your behaviour and we will take legal action for unfair dismissals.”
Hospitality trade association UKHospitality also urged employers to sign up to the wage-support scheme.
Its chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said that “not only will it safeguard jobs, it will also put the sector in a much stronger position to help rebuild the economy after the crisis has passed”.
‘We are doing everything we can to support you’
On March 20, Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered all bars, clubs and restaurants to close across the UK as part of the introduction of social distancing measures to limit the spread of coronavirus.
A rescue package for businesses and workers was immediately announced, which included the promise of a wage-support scheme for workers across the UK.
Hospitality, retail and leisure sectors were also given a business rates holiday in England, while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were promised extra funding under the Barnett formula.
Emergency legislation to help businesses with rents has also been introduced.
“I know it's tough out there,” the Chancellor said in a speech. “We in Government are doing everything we can to support you.”
But the effects of the virus on the restaurant industry is already being felt.
On March 30, Italian restaurant chain Carluccio’s was placed into administration, putting 2,000 jobs at risk, with the pandemic cited as one of the reasons for the move.
Its workers are expected to be placed on the Government jobs retention scheme as options for the chain’s future are explored.
Have you been affected by this? If your hospitality job is uncertain or at risk, you can get in touch with us at [email protected] or via our Facebook page.
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