In a statement released yesterday (17 March), the trade union called for the establishment of a ‘Covid-19 task force’ for the sector, saying there was an urgent need for a cross-party working group with the representatives from the UK government, Scottish government, trade unions, and the trade bodies UKHospitality and the Scottish Tourism Alliance.
It also outlined a five-point action plan that it said should be implemented ‘as a matter of urgency’ to support workers in the industry.
Those five measures include removing the £114 threshold for statutory sick pay; the availability of ‘full company sick pay’ - 75% from government and 25% from the employer; no opportunistic redundancies; the provision of personal protective equipment appropriate to the role; and engaging with workers who know the industry about what can be done to save it.
“The hospitality industry is under grave threat and that’s why we are calling for this taskforce to be set up to take urgent action to protect workers in a sector which is a major generator of wealth for the economy,” says Dave Turnbull, Unite officer with national responsibility for hospitality.
“It can’t be sacrificed and the workers must be protected during this period.”
The Unite announcement came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised people to ‘avoid’ pubs and restaurants earlier this week as the country’s response to the Coronavirus outbreak intensified.
Yesterday afternoon the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced that the business rates holiday is to be extended to all businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector for the next 12 months, to help those struggling during the Coronavirus crisis.
He also pledged to make £330bn of capital available for businesses through government-backed loans, with additional measures expected to be announced in the coming days.